Fall Back Down When I Die is beautifully written, amazing story with realistic characters
that grabs you by the heart. Worth the read! Recommended By Adrienne C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
For readers of My Absolute Darling, Fourth of July Creek, and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, a Montana story about the unbreakable bond between a young man and the abandoned boy put in his care, as old grievances of land and blood are visited upon them.
Wendell Newman, a young ranch hand in Montana, has recently lost his mother, leaving him an orphan, as his father met a violent end more than a decade earlier. His bank account holds less than a hundred dollars, and he owes back taxes on what remains of the land his parents owned, as well as money for the surgeries that failed to save his mother's life.
Into this situation comes seven-year-old Rowdy Burns, the illegitimate son of Wendell's cousin, who is incarcerated after falling prey to addiction. Traumatized, Rowdy is mute and damaged. Caring for him will be a test of Wendell's will and resolve, and yet he comes to love the boy more than he ever thought possible. That love will be stretched to the breaking point during the first legal wolf hunt in Montana in more than thirty years, when a murder results in a manhunt, and Wendell finds himself on the wrong side of a disaffected fringe group, hoping both to protect Rowdy and to avoid the same violent fate that claimed his father.
This dark and haunting debut novel is an unforgettable tale of sacrificial love, with two characters who win the reader's heart from the first page to the last.
"Joe Wilkins has risen to a very special peak with this heartrending novel of hard living and lonesome hope in the vast American landscape. I cannot praise it enough." Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The House of Broken Angels and The Hummingbird's Daughter
"The poetry of this beautiful novel isn't only in the language--and it's certainly in that--but also in Joe Wilkins's keen understanding of the Bull Mountains in eastern Montana, of the people who have left their mark on the land there, or tried to erase it, and of the mysterious complexities of the human heart that drive us to one side of the law or the other." Elizabeth Crook, author of The Which Way Tree
"Fall Back Down When I Die is a masterpiece. Lean and authentic, this twenty-first century western captures what so many rural Americans on the margins are feeling: righteous anger and bitter disconnection, powerlessness and flinty pride. And yet Joe Wilkins has endowed his unforgettable cast of characters with humanity, gentleness, grace, and hard-won poetry. In prose as rugged and beautiful as the story's Montana setting, Wilkins has written one of the best novels I've read in years. An absolutely stunning book in every way." Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs
"With a passion matched only by his compassion, Joe Wilkins has crafted a novel that perfectly explicates the clash between the cowboys and ranchers of the old West and the environmentalists and seekers of the new. No polemic, Fall Back Down When I Die is populated by vibrant characters drawn with fairness and deep heart, boys and men, girls and women who will get under your skin and stay there, and is full of vivid descriptions of the Montana landscape that are spot-on and swoon-worthy. Finally, this is a book about America: its violence, its traumas, its entitlements, and its stultifying rage." Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Sight Hound
For readers of My Absolute Darling and Fourth of July Creek, a "riveting and timely" Montana story about the unbreakable bond between a young man and the abandoned boy put in his care (Jess Walter), as old grievances of land and blood are visited upon them.
Wendell Newman, a young ranch hand in Montana, has recently lost his mother, leaving him an orphan. His bank account holds less than a hundred dollars, and he owes back taxes on what remains of the land his parents owned, as well as money for the surgeries that failed to save his mother's life.
An unexpected deliverance arrives in the form of seven-year-old Rowdy Burns, the mute and traumatized son of Wendell's incarcerated cousin. When Rowdy is put under his care, what begins as an ordeal for Wendell turns into a powerful bond, as he comes to love the boy more than he ever thought possible. That bond will be stretched to the breaking point during the first legal wolf hunt in Montana in more than thirty years, when a murder ignites a desperate chase.
Caught on the wrong side of a disaffected fringe group, Wendell is determined both to protect Rowdy and to avoid the same violent fate that claimed his own father. A gripping story set in a fractured and misunderstood community, Fall Back Down When I Die is a haunting and unforgettable tale of sacrificial love.
Finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
About the Author
Joe Wilkins's memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers, won the GLCA New Writers Award for nonfiction, and his work has appeared in the Georgia Review, the Harvard Review, and Slate, among many other periodicals. He is a Pushcart Prize winner and a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the PEN/USA Award. Wilkins lives with his wife and two children in western Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.