‘The truth is that all family lines, from the highest to the lowest, originate somewhere, on some particular day. Even the grandest trees must’ve once been seeds spun helpless on the wind, and then just meek saplings nosing up from the soil.’
2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world’s last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. But even as they breathe in the fresh air and pose for photographs amidst the greenery, guide Jake knows that the forest is dying, though her bosses won’t admit it.
1908. Two passenger locomotives meet head-on. The only survivors are two young boys, who take refuge in a trapper’s cabin in a forest on the edge of town. In twenty-six years, one of them, now a recluse, will find an abandoned baby – another child of Greenwood – setting off a series of events that will change the course of his life, and the lives of those around him.
Structured like the rings of a tree, this remarkable novel moves from the future to the present to the past, and back again, to tell the story of one family and their enduring connection to the place that brought them together.
Praise for If I Fall, If I Die:
‘An astonishing piece of work. Christie combines lyrical prose and true-to-life characters – and skateboarding – to craft a remarkable tale of mothers and sons, and what it means to grow up.’ — Philipp Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of The Son Praise for If I Fall, If I Die:
‘If I Fall, If I Die is an expertly crafted work of great heart and sensitivity. I can’t recall a truer or more beautiful debut.’ — Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers ‘A compulsively readable, beautifully observed, deeply felt and rich tale that roves across Canadian history and landscape.’ — Robert Goodman * The Blurb * ‘An epic, ambitious quilt of themes, stitched together by the compelling arc of the family.’ — Sally Adee * New Scientist * ‘[A] timely, moving novel.’ — Damien Lawardorn * Aurealis * ‘Greenwood is a brilliant novel that demonstrates the ghastly effects of treating the environment as a commodity. This really is a novel for our times.’ * Theresa Smith Writes * ‘Greenwood is a compulsively readable, beautifully observed, deeply felt and rich tale that roves across Canadian history and landscape.’ * Pile by the Bed * ‘This superb family saga will satisfy fans of Richard Powers’s The Overstory while offering a convincing vision of potential ecological destruction.’ * Publishers Weekly * ‘Astonishing … What makes Greenwood an essential climate-change novel is that, rather than obsessing over a single, final apocalypse to come, it attempts something much harder and more ambitious: to transcend altogether the tropes of victim and antagonist … And to instead present humanity and nature as deeply, ultimately, endlessly interconnected … Greenwood offers a rare sentiment in the climate emergency: hope.’ — Damian Tarnopolsky * The Walrus * ‘A dystopian, historical, speculative, multigenerational family saga, this marvellous, generous book is best enjoyed in a forest.’ — Sharon Bala, author of The Boat People ‘A remarkable achievement.’ — Carol Off * As It Happens * ‘Whatever 2038 is really like when it arrives, Canadians and others will still be reading Greenwood for its high energy, its memorable characters, and its anguished love for the forests.’ — Crawford Kilian * The Tyee * ‘Greenwood is a sprawling and ambitious novel of industrial greed, climate catastrophe, familial bonds and a little bit of hope.’ — Keith Cadieux * Winnipeg Free Press * ‘Greenwood is a family story, fractured and often contradictory (as the best family stories usually are … bring[ing] together the intimate and the sweeping, the human world and the natural, the past and the future.’ * Quill & Quire * ‘At once hypnotic and raging, dangerously real and brimming with hope, Greenwood is that most necessary epic that binds our human frailties to our planet’s possibilities. Michael Christie tenderly rakes the past and paints a future without flinching. I read this book with my heart in my throat, in my hands, in my gut; I read this book heart-full.’ — Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Story of Land and Sea ‘Ingeniously structured and with prose as smooth as beech bark, Michael Christie’s Greenwood is as compulsive as it is profound. A sweeping intergenerational saga that explores trees and their roots, from the precious evergreens that become commodities in the entertainment business of the future, to the intricately tangled trees of family – all of it is dazzlingly delivered in a framework inspired by the actual growth rings of a tree. Every one of Greenwood’s characters burrowed their way into my heart. Beguilingly brilliant, timely, and utterly engrossing, Greenwood is one of my favourite reads in recent memory.’ — Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom ‘[S]tructured like the growth rings of a tree, spanning generation … [Greenwood] looks at families, love and secrets against the backdrop of the ‘magic’ of trees.’ * CBC News * ‘Rich with evocative descriptions of West Coast wilderness and anchored by a deep visceral bond to the trees that sustain us all, Greenwood is a literary page-turner that manages to be both nostalgic and modern, personal and political, intimately human and big-picture historical. In an era of so much uncertainty, it is comforting to see novelists begin to work through the biggest issue of our age. And, in this case, convert our collective suffering into brilliant, beauty-filled art.’ * Toronto Star * ‘[An] eerily real-feeling future.’ * Globe and Mail * ‘Greenwood is brilliant. Michael Christie shows a cross section of one family’s history, revealing their dark secrets, loves, losses, and the mark of an accident still visible four generations later. Year by year, page by page, the layers of this intricate and elegant novel build into an epic story that is completely absorbing. I had to cancel everything for this book because I couldn’t stop reading.’ — Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal ‘This is one of ‘those’ books. One of ‘those’ books that grabs your heart and soul and fills you up to overflowing with the immensity of all that’s contained within its pages.’ — Gill Chedgey * NB magazine * ‘Christie skillfully teases out the details in a page-turner of a saga that complements sylvan books such as Sometimes a Great Notion and The Overstory … Beguilingly structured, elegantly written: eco-apocalyptic but with hope that somehow we’ll make it.’ STARRED REVIEW * Kirkus * ‘This superb family saga will satisfy fans of Richard Powers’s The Overstory while offering a convincing vision of potential ecological destruction.’ * Publisher’s Weekly * ‘A lyrical, meditative take on a world in which forests have become such rare commodities that they are turned into therapeutic retreats for the very wealthy.’ — Sally Adee * New Scientist * ‘This book is why we read books. Why we need books. Wildly inventive, structurally elegant, deeply felt, and so very wise. Greenwood is Michael Christie’s best work ever, and that’s saying something.’ — Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting
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