In 2018, Claire Nelson made international headlines. She was in her thirties and was beginning to burn out – her hectic London life of work and social activity and striving to do more and do better in the big city was frenetic and stressful. Although she was surrounded by people all of the time, she felt increasingly lonely.
When the anxiety she felt finally brought her to breaking point, Claire decided to take some time off and travelled to Joshua Tree Park in California to hike and clear her head. What happened next was something she could never have anticipated.
While hiking, Claire fell 25 feet, gravely injuring herself and she lay alone in the desert – mistakenly miles off any trail, without a cell phone signal, fighting for her life. She lay in the elements for four days until she was miraculously found – her rescuers had not expected to find her alive.
In THINGS I LEARNED FROM FALLING Claire tells her incredible story and what it taught her about loneliness, anxiety and transformation and how to survive it all.
I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to read Things I Learned From Falling. This book featured on my Books I’m Hoping to Read in 2020 [Non-fiction Edition] post and it was only 48 hours from my NetGalley request to my finishing the book.
I read the book in two sittings over the course of a day, that’s how absorbing it is. Nelson’s narrative moves between her past, both childhood and recent, to her present, the account of her days in the desert hoping beyond hope to be saved. The reference to falling is how she literally fell but also emotionally, and how, over time, she has pieced her life back together into something quite different from her past.
What makes this book so fantastic, is that Nelson makes it relatable. Have I ever fallen from a height in the desert, lain for days thinking I was about to die? No. But yet there is so much in this book to which I could relate.
It’s strange how moments become suspended in time. Everything during those next few seconds happened so fast, yet each movement left a clear and perceptible etch in my memory.
The book is split into the days Nelson was stuck in the desert. As we move through the days with her, she builds up all her physical and mental pain, as well as her fear, in such detail that at the point of her rescue I actually (completely unexpectedly) burst into tears, as if I had never known that she was rescued.
Nelson tackles many subjects, primarily mental health, but also provides a commentary on our society and social media.
I thought about the amount of time I spent-that I wasted-sitting in my room pissing about on the internet. Hours on social media, clicking links, flicking through apps. Sucked down the rabbit hole of nothingness. Hours of my life just thrown in the bin. Gone.
When reading this part of the book, all I could think about is how right she is and how it shouldn’t take a life changing experience for me to acknowledge that I engage in this type of behaviour. But later in the book, Nelson goes on to talk about healing but also falling, and how falling is part of living.
I feel like I could talk about this book all day, but in summary it is beautiful. It is wonderfully well-written, descriptive, and captivating. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Take tissues.
Many thanks to Octopus Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can support your local bookshop by buying Things I Learned From Falling through them directly, or via Hive.
What do you think of Things I Learned From Falling? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.
Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,