Don’t You Fall Now by Claudia Love Mair (formerly Claudia Mair Burney) is a hauntingly beautiful, family memoir that tells the story of how the author’s eighteen-year-old son, Kamau Burney, survived a jump from a six story parking structure near the campus of the University of Kentucky. Kamau landed face first, shattering all the bones in his face, along with breaking his hip, clavicle, and neck. His survival was a miracle. Mair’s story is a lyrical exploration of what it means for a mentally ill mother to care for a mentally ill and brain injured son. Told in sparse prose, the chapters are intentionally short, meditative, and intense. The result is a riveting story that is raw, real, and ultimately hopeful.
This is a beautifully written memoir of grief and hope.
Claudia Love Mair’s ability to parent her child is clearly not hampered by her mental health problems. Her son was abused by a man who was his godfather, who held a position of authority as a Subdeacon in the Orthodox Church in America despite a prior conviction for child sexual abuse.
As an advocate for survivors of abuse in the Orthodox churches, I was appalled when Claudia was made to feel like she was up for the “worst mother in the world award” by the three men who investigated her complaint on behalf of the Church. But Claudia’s honest and heartfelt response made me pump my fist and cheer at her true strength and resilience.
“I wanted God in my life. I went to church. I asked the priest if Robert could be trusted to be a good Godfather. He seemed to be a righteous man. I believed the priest when he said he was.”
Mothering is not about our limitations, but our ability to stand up for our children when they can not. Five stars for a great book, and an even greater mother.