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Little, Brown (2019-01-01)
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by Wilkins, Joe

FALL BACK DOWN WHEN I DIE will appeal to readers of My Absolute Darling, Fourth of July Creek, and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Dark, haunting, and written in crystalline, stark prose, Fall Back Down When I Die is set in rural Montana and tells the story of 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'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.

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...[A] beautiful novel.

Quote: Elizabeth Crook, author

Fall Back Down When I Die is a masterpiece. Lean and authentic... A twenty-first-century western. 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.

Quote: Nickolas Butler, author

Joe Wilkins has risen to a very special peak with this heartrending novel of hard living and lonesome hope... I cannot praise it enough.

Quote: Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author

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