A Step Toward Falling
by Cammie McGovern
published October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen
young adult | contemporary
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Emily doesn’t know why she froze. Or why Lucas did too. Afterward, she thought of different ways to rationalize it. But the truth is, they could have helped Belinda, and they didn’t. It’s a mistake they’ll both have to live with.
Belinda doesn’t want to talk about what happened. Because when she does, it feels like it’s happening all over again.
Emily and Lucas’s punishment is community service at a center for people with disabilities. People like Belinda. Soon they 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. Like they could help not only those at the center but also each other.
But when Belinda returns to school, Emily and Lucas have to figure out if they can do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt most.
I really enjoyed Cammie McGovern’s debut [book: Say What You Will|18599754], so I was extremely excited for her second novel A Step Toward Falling. And I was not disappointed.
When Emily and Lucas see Belinda, a disabled classmate, getting sexually abused at a football game, they both walk away without doing anything. As punishment, they are forced to do community service at a center for disabled adults, where they learn that people with disabilities are people just like them.
My problem with the story is that I felt Emily and Lucas were characters, not real people. They have certain characteristics to distinguish themselves (Emily is an activist, Lucas is a football player), but besides that I didn’t feel they had any additional characterization. Because of this, I had a difficult time truly empathizing with them and their situation.
Eventually, Emily and Lucas’ acquaintanceship develops into a romance. I felt a bit ambivalent about their romance because I never truly felt the chemistry between them. It felt as if the romance was added simply because McGovern wanted to cater more to a young adult audience; not because it was truly necessary to the story.
In the end, while I was a bit disconnected towards Emily and Lucas as characters, I did enjoy the message McGovern was trying to send.
Zoe is a critical reviewer. When she’s not reviewing, you can find her performing in plays / musicals, doing gymnastics, or designing websites.