A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut, Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.
Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.
Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?
I really enjoyed this story. It unfolds from the perspective of two characters: Emily and Belinda. Emily, a shy, nerdy, do-gooder, witnesses Belinda being sexually assaulted at a football game, and she panics and does nothing. Belinda, who has some developmental issues due to seizures at an early age, struggles to understand what happened to her and to understand why Emily and Lucas, a football player who also witness the attack, did nothing.
I loved alternating points of view, so this book was right on the mark there. The voices of both characters were so great. I related to Emily a lot, since I was similar in high school.
Emily and Lucas have to do community service as penance for their lack of action, but they both feel that helping other disabled young adults isn’t really helping Belinda. Emily remembers that Belinda was a wonderful actress when they were younger, so they decide to put on a play, starring Belinda.
Oh, how I loved this plot element. Belinda is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and Colin Firth, which was so fun to read about. The way the play unfolds was so real. I won’t say anymore.
The parallel stories of Belinda and Emily navigating their way through high school and relationships was great. Cammie McGovern was able to make Belinda’s story relate-able to everyone. This type of diverse book is so necessary in our society.
I struggled with the horrible adults in this book. Emily’s parents were so concerned with her future that they ignored her feelings about the event. And Belinda’s grandmother was too controlling. I did admire Belinda’s mother, although I would have liked to learn more of her story. I wondered whether she may have had a similar horror from her own high school past.
The pacing of this story was great. Details about the past were revealed as necessary. I love when books jump right in and give you backstory as you read.
There were a lot of side characters that did confuse me a little at times, but overall the character set was good. Both Belinda and Emily had friends who rounded out the story.
I definitely recommend this book to fans of YA and fiction in general.
What you do if you fall in love with a character in a movie is decide what you like about that person and start looking for those qualities in a real person.
These folks aren’t childish; they just haven’t lost the enthusiastic attachments I associate with children.
There’s a logic to the place Pride and Prejudice holds in any lonely teen’s heart.
That’s how people like us get through high school. We expect to have a much better time when we get out.
My Rating: 4 Stars
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