Review – A Step Toward Falling


Title: A Step Toward Falling
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publication: October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 368 pages
Format: Library book
Rating: 3/5

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?

Shelf it on Goodreads


So here’s the alphabetical run down:


This book is written in alternating chapters from both Emily and Belinda’s perspectives. Belinda’s perspective was probably my favorite part of the whole book.  Her disability isn’t explicitly stated, although you know the she has trouble with reading, writing and math. She sees herself as being “less disabled” as her classmates, which is such an interesting perspective and I can honestly say, not one that I have ever read before. McGovern really did a great job giving life and personality to all of Belinda’s classmates as well as all of the people at the community center where Emily and Lucas do their volunteer work. She adds the perfect amount of comic relief to the interactions and even just inside Belinda’s own thoughts.

Where this book fell flat for me was Emily and Lucas. I honestly can’t remember ever being given any physical description of Emily’s character, none at all. I have a hard time picturing a character that the author doesn’t give me somewhere to begin imagining. Lucas was described many times as big, like football player intimidatingly big, but that’s about it.  Not only were their physical descriptions lacking, but I had a hard time latching onto anything else that stood out in either of their personalities.


I love the color scheme of red and turquoise, as well as the stepping stone look of the cover to go along with the title.


There is very little romance in this book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the plot seems to go that direction without ever actually becoming a compelling attraction that you want to cheer for. The relationships you want to cheer for really become more about Belinda getting back to school, connecting with friends in her class and outside of her class, and finding a relationship with her mother.


The strange thing about this book is the dichotomy of a memorable character (Belinda) written in alternating chapters with a pretty unmemorable character (Emily). At times I felt like I wasn’t sure where the plot was headed and why it was taking so long to get there. However, I do feel like this book tackles a very sensitive subject with grace and interjects humor into situations where we feel like laughing might be the exact wrong thing to do, but is actually ok and even right sometimes. I respect McGovern for writing from Belinda’s perspective and I feel like just reading from inside a character’s head who is considered “developmentally disabled” opened my eyes and made me want to look at the people around me differently.  This book has an important message and is definitely worth reading.


“Expectations are sad and complicating things.”

“You don’t have to date me, just don’t date her. Please, as your friend, I’m begging you not to date someone who doesn’t appreciate you.”


I felt like the concept of this book had a lot of potential and the message behind it was well thought out and meaningful. However, the plot and some of the main characters just didn’t live up to the potential for me.




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