If This Were Fiction


If This Were Fiction

A Love Story in Essays

Jill Christman

American Lives Series

228 pages
2 illustrations


September 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

September 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Foreword INDIES Silver Winner in Autobiography and Memoir 

If This Were Fiction is a love story—for Jill Christman’s long-ago fiancé, who died young in a car accident; for her children; for her husband, Mark; and ultimately, for herself. In this collection, Christman takes on the wide range of situations and landscapes she encountered on her journey from wild child through wounded teen to mother, teacher, writer, and wife. In these pages there are fatal accidents and miraculous births; a grief pilgrimage that takes Christman to jungles, volcanoes, and caves in Central America; and meditations on everything from sexual trauma and the more benign accidents of childhood to gun violence, indoor cycling, unlikely romance, and even a ghost or two.

Playing like a lively mixtape in both subject and style, If This Were Fiction focuses an open-hearted, frequently funny, clear-eyed feminist lens on Christman’s first fifty years and sends out a message of love, power, and hope.

Author Bio

Jill Christman is the author of two memoirs, Darkroom: A Family Exposure and Borrowed Babies: Apprenticing for Motherhood. She is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at Ball State University, a senior editor of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, and executive producer for the podcast Indelible: Campus Sexual Violence.


“Christman’s writing is moving and poetic, and she has a knack for imbuing profundity into everyday activities, whether slicing an avocado or climbing a hill. Fans of the personal essay shouldn’t miss these intimate encounters.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Eloquent and probing, Christman’s essays examine the profound ways relationships can—for better or worse—transform an individual life and provide glimpses into the complexities of the human heart. A warmly wise, intimate memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews

"If This Were Fiction: A Love Story in Essays gives you what you didn't know you needed: sloths and loss and Swedish Fish candy, alligators and avocados and bird girls, pain and loss and hard traveling back to confront that pain, googly eyes and wayward skirts and lipsticks uncapped in purses, electric eye contact with a fetching poet across a dive bar, all woven with joy."—Sonya Huber, Brevity

“Reading these essays is like hanging out with a true friend, someone who isn’t afraid to be real. Jill Christman writes about love, loss, trauma, fear, parenthood, and the strange wonder of our past and former selves with deep understanding, humor, and so much beauty.”—Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

If This Were Fiction is the collection I wish I had the talent and skill to write. Christman’s words shine with unusual beauty and hard-earned brilliance.”—Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter

“What is more complex than love, marriage, motherhood, and family? Probably nothing, but Jill Christman takes the deep dive with intelligent, intense, intimate essays that will catch you off guard and leave you wanting more. If This Were Fiction is a piercing book by a brilliant, gutsy writer.”—Dinty W. Moore, author of To Hell with It

“Engaging and distinctive. Christman brings intelligence, wit, and insightful honesty to her personal experiences with motherhood, womanhood, and girlhood, to abuse and its legacies, to the search for joy, creative expression, and love. Moving, beautifully written, and often quite funny.”—Megan Harlan, author of Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays

Table of Contents

Part I. since feeling is first
The Sloth
Going Back to Plum Island
The Surprise Baby
The River Cave
Bird Girls
Life’s Not a Paragraph
Part II. we are for each other
Family Portrait
The Eleven-Minute Crib Nap
The Googly Eye
A Stone Pear
Leading the Children Out of Town
Slaughterhouse Island
Part III. And death i think is no parenthesis
The Avocado
The Baby and the Alligator
The Lucky Ones
Naked Underneath Our Clothes
Source Acknowledgments


Foreword INDIES Silver Winner in Autobiography and Memoir 

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