I want to turn this book into a movie. I really, really want to. I want to because I identify with it on so many levels. The lonesome nature of my childhood; not knowing how to fit in, living inside my head, wanting a sense of adventure. That’s just the tip of the skateboard. The characters – especially the pre-teens Will and Jonah are some of the most realistic I have come across in recent memory. The way Michael Christie is able to conjure up the story from the point-of-view of a 11-12 year old boy is stunning, and wholly accurate.
If I Fall, If I Die is adventuresome, it is thrilling. It is an innocent coming-of-age story, that also delves into the area of native rights. It is Stand By Me meets Augusten Burroughs. It is an ode to childhood, an ode to art, and most importantly, and ode to the imagination and growing up. I would’ve read all in one sitting if I wasn’t spending my time at home on trivialities such as youtube and Facebook.
Never have I had such a consciously visceral reaction to a work of fiction. It was boom goes the dynamite. Granted, I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in Thunder Bay – I have never even been there – but I do know the feeling of being ostracized and having only one or two close friends for most of my life. True, I don’t know how to skateboard, but many of my peers did, and I related much more to Will’s sense of innate curiousity rather his sporting hobby. (Though I could substitute skateboarding for biking)
I did not have a mother who was agoraphobic and manic depressive but – like all mothers – mine did worry about me constantly. The ease at which Christie shifts back-and-forth between Will’s narrative and that of Diana’s shows that he has been fortunate to master writing at still a relatively youthful age.
As a boy who constantly lived in his head, one of my favourite aspects of the story was how Will and his mother had divided up their house into different cities around the world – San Francisco, New York, Cairo, Vienna, and Toronto. Because Will had never ventured outside until circumstances forced his hand at age 11, he was able to create an entire fantasy world right inside his own house. Who hasn’t done that on some level.
The naive innocence in which Will starts commenting on his 12 year old female classmates and his “loyalty” to his best friend Angela made me laugh as well, mainly because it was so adorably cute and all to real.
Even though there is a lot going on in this novel, it moves quite quickly, especially the latter half of the story, which comes off as an Goonies-like caper adventure tale. It is raw, it is hilarious, it is heartbreaking. And I loved every second of it. I want to turn this into a movie; I just can’t afford the option.
If I Fall, If I Die was released by McClelland & Stewart on January 20, 2015.