"A beautiful, big-hearted book with important lessons embedded in compelling stories of two irresistible girls. Expertly executed and movingly realized.” —New York Times Book Review
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.
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?
Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of books by Jennifer Niven, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.
Emily knows that she isn't good at everything (boys, for instance), but she generally thinks she's a good person until the night she does nothing when Belinda, a classmate with special needs, is being assaulted at a football game. Now Emily and Lucas, a star football player who also failed to act, must volunteer at a social skills class for adults with developmental disabilities. Interacting with Lucas and the class members is initially awkward for Emily, but she comes to see past her preconceptions about all of them. But this isn't just Emily's story: it's also Belinda's. Alternating passages follow Belinda as she recovers from the attack which she successfully fended off and returns to school, eventually befriending Emily and Lucas. No mere empathy builder for Emily and Lucas, Belinda is a fully developed character good at some things (better than Emily and Lucas, in fact), bad at others. Without evading or sugarcoating difficult topics, McGovern (Say What You Will) shows that disabled and able aren't binary states but part of a continuum a human one. Ages 14 up.
Beautiful and Captivating
Whenever Cammie McGovern releases a book, I know I'm in for a treat because her books all grip me so much that I have to read them more or less continually because I simply have to know what happens next. The themes in this book were as amazing as everything she's published. The topic of young people with disabilities particularly resonates with me because of a boy I knew in my childhood who was mainstreamed into our class. While it was easy to see the differences between him and the rest of us at first, it didn't take me long to see his special abilities and beautiful heart, making the first impressions quickly disappear in my mind. Causes for the disabled are very important to me because of this early impression.
I love the intertwining theme of first impressions through the discussion of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in this novel. Like all people, each of the characters struggled with this and made valuable discoveries upon getting to know one another as people. It was the perfect vehicle to make the point in a very natural way.
I wish I could give this book unlimited stars, and that might not even be enough.