Review: AFTER THE FALL by Dan Santat

This one punched and then karate chopped and then maybe pile drove me right in the feels. AFTER THE FALL by Dan Santat is incredible. The beautiful arc for Humpty Dumpty plays out with ease, as he battles his fear of heights from the infamous “Great Fall.” I don’t even want to go too much into the book, because I don’t want to ruin the ending accidentally. And, let me tell you, I’ve ruined an ending or two. (My husband won’t let me live down my blurting out the results of the Mayweather vs. McGregor match, although, of course, Mayweather won. But this isn’t a boxing blog.) What I love most about this book is the ending and its message. The message is clear and apparent, but not didactic. No preachy preachy here. No smacking you with “a message” across the face. It’s powerful and inspirational, and one kids need to hear, again and again. Heck, adults, too!

You may have seen the video of Dan Santat explaining the reason behind creating this book and dedicating it to his wife, Leah. If not, please watch it: You might need a tissue.

Like his wife and like many others, I, too, have suffered from a debilitating depression riddled with anxiety. It came to a point where I had a full-blown doom-and-gloom panic attack in my car (one of many to come). A panic attack so extreme, I called EMS. I thought, this was the end, and I didn’t know why. It took me about two years to figure out what was going on to finally get back to a state of normal. (PSA: don’t take Zyrtec over long periods of time.) During those two years, the car was my nemesis. It had grown into a trigger. It was my wall. I had to climb back into my car and face my fear over and over again, until the panic dissolved into minor flutters and then nothing. I had to reset myself. It was a long, long road (oh, that was a bad pun), but I made it. And that is why I am so passionate about this book. Because what is the option? A smaller and smaller world that loses its color and zest. A world where you can’t sleep in the top bunk (Read AFTER THE FALL!) or drive to your parents’ home in Dallas. That was not OK to me. I don’t think it should be OK for anyone. All in all, we’ve all had falls. It’s what you do afterward that determines your course. And it’s your course to take, so keep fighting. You have to Get. Back. Up.

Now on to: IF THIS BOOK WERE A PIE! Drum roll, please! My son was adamant that this book deserved to be a cinnamon, honey, and mascarpone pie with a lemon curd glaze. He felt those pie flavors were bold and brave and just right. I also happen to think those flavors are very healing. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe:


Mascarpone Filling

1/2 heavy cream

1 container mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon zest

In a mixing bowl, beat all the ingredients together until soft peaks form.

Lemon Curd

4 lemons

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), at room temperature

4 large eggs

Pinch nutmeg

Pinch salt

Zest the lemons and then squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice. Set the juice aside. Beat the zest and sugar for one minute. Add the butter and cream until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lemon juice, salt and nutmeg. Mixed until combined.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken and become clear at just below a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Fill a cooled, pre-baked crust with the mascarpone filling. (Use the crust recipe in my previous blog post.) Top the mascarpone filling with the lemon curd. Chill. Then enjoy.