Title: A Step Toward Falling
Author: Cammie McGovern
Release Date: October 6
Source: HarperCollins Children on Edelweiss (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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? (Source: Goodreads)
Emily and Lucas both made mistakes the night Belinda, a disabled classmate, is nearly raped at a football game. They were afraid and nervous and didn’t know what to do. Now they have to perform community service at a centre for disabled people as a punishment for their lack of action. They decide they want to help Belinda, the girl who they failed to save before. Can they make a difference in her life, or have they already ruined her life?
Cammie McGovern has once again written a beautiful story about the ways in which disabilities do not define us, but our actions do. Her previous book Say What You Will was beautiful and moving, one of my favourites of last year. A Step Toward Falling is an absolutely beautiful and touching book that really highlights some of the most horrifying things we as people often do – we fail to act when we are needed, and we judge those with disabilities. McGovern has written a breathtakingly honest book about making mistakes, misjudging people, and trying to learn from those mistakes.
The narration of the book alternates between Emily and Belinda’s perspectives. I thought this was really great because we got to know both Emily and Belinda really well, but we also got to know Lucas, the other main character of the book really well through his interactions with the two girls. Through them both we got to see Lucas’s personality unfold really interestingly. It was great to see how they all misjudge each other based on appearances and on the mistakes of the night of the football game. I think McGovern really set everything up well, tying it to the Pride and Prejudice story that Belinda loves so much.
I loved the way McGovern allowed everything to unfold slowly. We never see anything directly straight on, so we don’t learn everything that happened at the football game until later on in the book, so we are allowed time to get to know the individuals before we see their mistakes. I thought this really created a more interesting dynamic between the characters and between the reader and the characters. This also created really fantastic pacing making the book a really smooth and interesting read, it keeps you engaged and following the story enthusiastically.
I love that McGovern has chosen to use her own experiences working with developmentally disabled youths to write her books and tell stories that are often ignored. I think it’s fantastic that she used her books to really point to the issues we often ignore, like the ways in which society mistreats, ignores, and abuses those individuals we view as “lesser” just because they may have Downs syndrome, autism, or developmental disabilities. I loved that Emily and Lucas’s were used to show that disabilities down define people, that they are less important than the personalities and actions that people make as they are in all people.
I absolutely loved this book and would put in somewhere in my top 10 for this year.