on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my 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. 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?
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern didn’t show up on my radar until a few weeks ago when I started seeing all the glowing praise from fellow readers. I knew that I had to read it instantly. I feel like there’s been a sad lack of incredible contemporaries in my life this year and I wanted this book to fill that gap.
I think the premise for A Step Toward Falling is pretty amazing. Lucas and Emily witness something horrible and do nothing. They are then ‘punished’ by having to attend a weekly relationship class for adults with developmental disabilities. I loved seeing them learn about their peers and themselves throughout the book. There was some great character growth for Emily. I also feel like I learned and grew with them.
My only issue with the book is Emily. She was a pretty unlikable character surrounded by likable ones. She did have good character growth, like I mentioned before, but it seemed like it took her forever. She is supposed to be this great person but she continually does stupid and hurtful things. I also felt like her high school social hierarchy hangups were odd and out of place with the rest of the story. She annoyed me but I adored Lucas and Belinda.
Lucas was such a well rounded character. He definitely picked up Emily’s slack for me. He had a good heart and didn’t deserve Emily’s judgements through most of the book. He was my favorite character in the story, hands down. Belinda was also fascinating. I loved the chapters from her pov. That was a really unique element to the story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that had a developmentally disabled main character. She was sweet and refreshingly honest. It was impossible for me not to like her.
A Step Toward Falling was a good read. I certainly enjoyed it, but my dislike of Emily kept me from absolutely loving it. I think it’s an important book with a wonderful message. We could all learn a thing or two from it.
(Probably more like 3.5 stars)