​Review: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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?

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 16:

Just because we can see the problem doesn’t mean we aren’t part of it.

Page 65:

This is what I dream will happen when I meet my Mr. Darcy. That at first we don’t see each other’s flaws because we are blinded by love. Then the clouds will clear away and we will see them. No one is perfect. But we will focus on happiness because we know we are meant to be together.

Page 76:

Friendships are complicated. Friends have power. Friends can break your heart.

My Review:

I’m going to go ahead and let you know up front that this book needs a Trigger Warning for Rape.

The story is told from the perspectives of Emily and Belinda. This gives a unique perspective of more than one side of the complicated situation they find themselves in. The characters are all so well-developed, believable, and relatable that it’s hard to process that they’re works of fiction and not living, breathing people who I know.

The world of the story was built up just enough that I could drop myself into it without really taking much time to develop it formally. The places used are so common that my mind automatically filled in any details it wasn’t given based on what was.

The story itself was beautiful and painful all at once. Having survived assault, I wasn’t quite ready for some of the parts of this book, but seeing the characters deal with the situations as best they could was helpful to me as well. Belinda is such a brave young woman in ways that I find myself wishing I was. This was an absolutely brilliant story about how our first impressions are often incorrect and we can never truly know anyone before taking the time to try understanding them.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from A Step Toward Falling because I realized I haven’t really read many books with main characters who have disabilities. For that reason, I don’t think I could have found a more perfect book than this one because, while the whole of the story is complex and has multiple talking points, one of the greatest points is that disabled people are people. Just like people who aren’t disabled, disabled people worry and learn and love. While they might do those things differently and for different reasons than non-disabled people do, the point is that they do them.

Overall, I rate A Step Toward Falling 5 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of A Step Toward Falling and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Cammie McGovern and her work, visit her website.

I read this book for the Expelliarmus topic of the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon.


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