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A Step Toward Falling
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A Step Toward Falling
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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. The New York Times...
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. The New York Times...
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Description-

  • 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. The New York Times Book Review raved: "This is a beautiful, big-hearted book with important lessons embedded in compelling stories of two irresistible girls. Expertly executed and movingly realized."

    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.

About the Author-

  • Cammie McGovern is the author of the adult novels Neighborhood Watch, Eye Contact, and The Art of Seeing. This is her first book for young adults. Cammie is also one of the founders of Whole Children, a resource center that runs after-school classes and programs for children with special needs. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 27, 2015
    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. Agent: Margaret Riley King, William Morris Endeavor.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2015
    McGovern explores dating, disability, activism, and impending adulthood with a bow to Jane Austen. When intellectual but shallow Emily witnesses the sexual assault of Belinda, a student with unspecified developmental disabilities, she can't react; an AP course load and the Youth Action Coalition haven't prepared her for "Real World Issues." She atones by doing community service at the Lifelong Learning Center for young adults with developmental disabilities. Belinda, a naive romantic who takes her cues from watching Pride and Prejudice, copes with the aftermath by listening to Colin Firth. The gradual details of Belinda's assault are as minimal as popcorn but sharp against her matter-of-fact bewilderment, and the author handles such topics as boundaries, (lack of) support, post-traumatic stress, and disclosure gently. Jane Austen references abound as Emily's and Belinda's alternating viewpoints illustrate how braving the uncertainty of relationships, expectations, and life after high school transcends class or ability. Both girls learn to look past their respective prejudices, each with her own humor, and-a la Austen-each girl gets a guy. Unfortunately, the book's uplifting ending turns upon contrivances and risks making Belinda a prop for Emily's growth. Fortunately, Belinda is engaging in her own right, and the sensitive overview of tough issues gracefully balances romance with reality. Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate this unconventional homage. (Romance. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-Emily knew when she saw Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being assaulted under the bleachers she needed to intervene, but she froze, and now she's doing community service and trying to figure out how to live with herself. Belinda is attempting to determine how to go forward after rescuing herself. Told in alternating sections of Emily's and Belinda's voices, this book explores how even good people can fail morally. Emily and Lucas (who was also present that night) are wrong, and that is made clear throughout; their inaction is understandable but inexcusable, and that subtle distinction is an important one. In addition, Belinda is written thoughtfully and respectfully. She has a distinct voice that reflects her cognitive disabilities but without condescension. Given that portrayals of people with developmental disabilities so often either depict them as perfect angels or use them as a device by which the neurotypical characters better themselves, Belinda's full-fledged personality is important for readers to engage with. The parallel romances are charming and appropriate, and while Emily and Lucas's treads the well-worn paths of smart girl plus hot, sensitive jock, it is not an unpleasant trope to revisit. The secondary plots of Belinda's family conflict and Emily distancing herself from her friends are well-executed ways to flesh out the two protagonists' growth. VERDICT Highly recommended for realistic fiction collections.-L. Lee Butler, Hart Middle School, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • New York Times Book Review PRAISE FOR A STEP TOWARD FALLING: "Universal human emotions and challenges link the characters across boundaries of gender, class, and I.Q. This is a beautiful, big-hearted book with important lessons embedded in compelling stories of two irresistible girls. Expertly executed and movingly realized."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Without evading or sugarcoating difficult topics, McGovern shows that disabled and able aren't binary states but part of a continuum—a human one."
  • School Library Journal (starred review) "Told in alternating sections of Emily's and Belinda's voices, this book explores how even good people can fail morally. Belinda is written thoughtfully and respectfully. She has a distinct voice that reflects her cognitive disabilities but without condescension. Highly recommended for realistic fiction collections."
  • ALA Booklist (starred review) "Through alternating chapters, Emily comes to understand her inaction, prejudices, and failings, and Belinda learns to face her fears, find her voice, and take charge of her future. McGovern's ample experience with special needs youth is evident, as it allows this unique story shine from within."
  • Chicago Tribune "Cammie McGovern's second nuanced, thought-provoking young adult novel. A co-founder of Whole Children, a Massachusetts community center similar to the one about which she writes, McGovern obviously draws upon personal experience to create characters who are complex and fully realized."
  • Justine Magazine "So much love for this wise and powerful book. Most of all for Belinda—a girl with a cognitive disability who shows how full a life can be, and who loves Pride and Prejudice and Colin Firth as much as we do. For fans of Jennifer Niven and Jandy Nelson."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Alternating viewpoints illustrate how braving the uncertainty of relationships, expectations, and life after high school transcends class or ability. The sensitive overview of tough issues gracefully balances romance with reality. Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate this unconventional homage."
  • The Horn Book "Belinda's voice is perfectly pitched: it's clear that she's thought her world through on her own terms. By including a wide variety of distinct characters, the novel shows that the presence or absence of a disability is just one of many aspects of who a person is."
  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) "This book might lead to an interesting discussion about responsibility, about standing up for someone, about doing the right thing."
  • The Globe and Mail "McGovern uses her experience working with youth with special needs to illuminate the everyday thought processes and internal lives of young adults who function differently in society. She gives readers characters, not archetypes. It's a poignant, warm, compelling book that insists that mistakes and redemption can go hand in hand."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "A sensitive exploration of frailty and strength, setback and recovery. Ultimately, it's a story of young people reexamining themselves, their preconceptions, and their possibilities, and readers will recognize their vulnerabilities and applaud their commitment."
  • Examiner.com "Beautifully written. Although this story has its dark side, to be sure, it also is a story told by McGovern with much love and humor. Everyone who reads this book will be touched and forced to question her/his own stereotypes."
  • TeenReads.com "Readers will fall more in love with the characters the more they read."
  • BookBrowse.com "It's hard not to fall in love with McGovern's story. A beautiful portrait of a real teenage world that is capable of hopefulness and healing. Fans of Rainbow Rowell and Jandy Nelson's brand of realistic YA fiction should find a new favorite in Cammie McGovern's lovely A Step Toward Falling."
  • Ron Koertge, author of Stoner & Spaz Praise for SAY WHAT YOU WILL:"This is a book to read, savor, and pass on and on until it has gone around the world twice."
  • ALA Booklist (starred review) "Exhilarating and heartrending.This novel is stunning."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Readers will be surprised, moved, amused, worried, hopeful, and grateful."
  • Kirkus Reviews "McGovern's triumph is how well she normalizes and highlights the variety of disability experiences among teens and their often circuitous journeys toward claiming their voices and right to self-det

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