“Life begins when you get back up.”

The last few months, while full of joy and wonderful things, have also harbored a few emotional challenges in the wake of unexpected change.

I’ve always felt I’ve had choices. I can A, let things beat me and roll over and play dead until I recover; B, keep fighting; C, find a decent work around and keep moving; or D, a combination of B and C and take all of that pain and heartache and channel it into something worthwhile instead of whining about it.

First of all, yes, I have chosen A a few times in my life, so this isn’t a post about my fabulous strength and endurance. F—, sometimes, shit just beats me, and that’s okay. Recently, though, it’s been choice D, and there are days when the gumption’s running low. It’s always wonderful, then, to find a little something to give me a kick in the ass—a reminder, if you will—when I need it most.

A few years ago, I was helping a local bookstore move (while it was out of the goodness of my heart, I will admit I was also looking for things to purchase, and going through every single shelf was a great opportunity to do that). I was assigned to the children’s section, and I stumbled across a book called After the Fall, by Dan Santat.

I will refrain from too many spoilers, but the King’s men putting Humpty Dumpty back together again wasn’t the end of the story. After the Fall is a diary of his struggles with the trauma’s life-altering psychological after-effects—and ultimately, how he overcomes them.

A book about never giving up on overcoming trauma—especially for children—is important. I will say it was also one of the saddest children’s books I’ve ever read—this is the kind of stuff I’d run in 34 Orchard if our target audience were kids—and its ending, while uplifting, was more realistic and less happy-joy-joy. It really spoke to me.

Even though I immediately wanted it for my library, I purchased the bookstore’s only copy for a friend, who had lost his dad the year prior but was still struggling with processing the loss; it was, in many ways, for him, an absolute disaster, since he’d never been traumatized before. Even though I’d shared my personal experiences to try to get him through it, I felt the book would be more helpful than I ever could. I meant to buy it later, but never got around to it, so I put it on my Christmas wish list.

This past Christmas, it was under the tree. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it these past few months, and I find it odd that it’s been on that list for two and a half years, but that this was the year someone chose to give it to me. It was like the universe saying, ‘this, my dear, is the year you’re going to need it.’

I highly recommend this book, for both children and adults. It’s worth keeping on your shelf for those occasions when you’re getting your ass kicked. In those darkest moments, it might just become your very best friend, reminding you, in no uncertain terms, that Life Begins When You Get Back Up.

The book has won multiple awards, among them Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2017, New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2017, New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Kids, and NPR Best Book of 2017. The book is available on Amazon here.


About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on June 13, 2022, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the rec!

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