Live or die? Leave or stay? Debating either question can make any memoir compelling. But when both are addressed simultaneously, you've got the makings of a book so gripping that you'll read it in one feverish sitting—which is just what Alexandra Fuller has accomplished in Falling
(available only as an e-book
). "I don't want to be married to you," she declares to her husband, Charlie, in the first line, a confession that becomes horrifically complicated by his bone-breaking tumble off a horse a few seconds later. As Fuller sits by his bedside, unsure whether or not he will survive, she reflects on how they met and what keeps drawing them apart, even after 19 years and three children. Elephants charge them in Africa; war ponies separate them in Nebraska; a helicopter whisks them together across Idaho. All this makes for a terrifically compelling story, and yet the scenes of the truest bravery take place in the landscape of Fuller's mind as she questions not just her need to break up her family but also her way of going about it. "Why couldn't I have gentled my way out of this marriage?" she asks herself. She couldn't because she can't. That's not her (note: for more on her, please, please read Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
or Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
). There's nothing soft or careful about her story either; it's a raw, courageous leap—for both reader and writer—into the struggle between security and freedom, and more importantly, between being who you wish you were and being who you are.