Book Review: A Step Toward Falling

A Step Toward Falling Edit

24723223A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Series: Standalone

Published by HarperTeen on October 6, 2015

Genres: Contemporary, Disability, Diversity, Fiction, Love & Romance, Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 368

Rating: ★.5

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


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?



Critical Rating: ★★★

Entertainment Rating: ★★★

Overall Rating: ★.5

Plot: Slower Paced | Intruiging | Well flowing

Characters: Well Developed | Some Are Annoying Others Are Not | Learns Important Lessons | Realistic Portrayal Of Disabilities

World Building: Modern Society | Reflected Well On Prejudices | Day to Day Life

Writing: Simple | Nothing Too Special | Important Messages



A Step Toward Falling was a subtly soft yet thought provoking book. With just a glance at the cutesy cover, you will never be able to imagine the emotional punches that this story throws. From the very beginning of the book, Cammie McGovern openly embraces and reinforces the important themes of standing up for what is right, how first impressions are not always what they seem and the misconceptions we have of disabled people.

“You deserve love as much as anyone else.”

Each chapter of this book is told from two different perspectives, one from Emily, the “normal” girl and the other from Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities. Though their lives unfold at the same time with one another, we can clearly see how differently they are treated, spoken to and downright thought of by the society as a whole. Reading this book made me continuously contemplate all of the choices I have made in my life and wonder whether or not I can honestly say that I am proud of everything I have done. As well, because of the age difference between these two characters, the way they each viewed life was so contrasting and intruiging. Whereas Emily was still a typical high school student;  immature and socially awkward, Belinda really seemed to act like an adult with righteous morals and coherent thoughts. Although Belinda was the disabled character in the story, she felt much older and full of wit and life.

“Choose carefully the people whose approval you seek.”

My favourite aspect of the book was by far the relationships between the characters. The friendship between Emily, Lucas, Belinda, Anthony and the other disabled students was so adorable and sweet to read about. As the story progressed on, all of characters disabled or not, began to learn how to support one another through various mediums, working out the differences that made them unique. Unlike most contemporaries, the romance in A Step Toward Falling is certainly not the main purpose of the story. While it is there, it is quiet and slow, making the reader eagerly anticipate their realistic relationship.

“I’ve never had a best friend before except for Nan and Mom of course. But I think this is what having a best friend feels like. Where you care about them being happy as much as you care about yourself being happy. Maybe even more.”

Though the themes in this book was extremely well fleshed out, I have to admit that everything else was pretty mediocre. The writing wasn’t anything special and the side characters (other than Anthony and Belinda’s family) were barely there. Additionally, the plot was really slow and though I never had the urge to stop reading, I also never had the urge to want to continue on with the book. Basically in a nutshell, there was nothing exciting or fast enough that kept me glued to the edge of my seat.

Though I had numerous minor problems that kept me from fully enjoying the book, the main characters eventually made up for them. Both Emily and Belinda were complex and realistic, complete with talents and flaws, going through drastic character development as the book went on. Out of the two main female characters, I preferred reading from Belinda’s point of view. The way she did things the way she did and the processing of her mind was truly eye opening to read about. Emily on the other hand, was quite annoying and irritating. I didn’t understand her choices and while she wasn’t a “bad guy”, I had an exceptionally difficult time appreciating her character.

Overall, A Step Towards Falling was a wonderful book focusing on the more heavier topics of bullying and accepting yourself flaws and all. While the writing or the plot did not blow me away, the well fleshed out themes and main characters covered some of the smaller loop holes. Though this is not a book that I will remember forever, it is one that I have learned valuable lessons from and the messages will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. If you are looking for a thought provoking YA Contemporary with a small but sweet romance aspect, this book might be for you.

“Love isn’t about looking perfect to the other person. It’s about being able to how your imperfections.”


Have you read A Step Toward Falling or are you planning to? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading lovelies xoxo,

-Jenna <3-

Find me here!



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