Review: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Posted October 16, 2015 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 4 Comments

A Step Toward Falling

Author: Cammie McGovern
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: ARC
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher at BEA
Rating: 3 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***


Synopsis from Goodreads:


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?

My Review:


I expected this book to be an emotional roller coaster based on the synopsis. I was hoping for a powerful story that would open my eyes and teach me a few lessons. And while this story did that, it didn’t do it quite as powerfully as I wanted it to. It didn’t affect me like I had hoped. And a big reason was because I couldn’t connect to any of these characters.


The main character Emily, saw Belinda, a girl with developmental disabilities, being attacked and instead of getting help she does nothing and just walks away. So I’m expecting Emily to go through a huge transition throughout this book. She does, but I didn’t feel anything for her. I didn’t care about her one way or the other. And at times I found her to be a typical angsty teen that I couldn’t connect with. She’s whining about a boyfriend. She has a core group of friends, but she never really talks to them. And the biggest gaping plot hole of all, no mention of her parents. Okay there’s one mention of her parents, right at the beginning when she’s at her disciplinary hearing, but after that they fall off the face of the earth never to be heard from again. Why do authors who write YA insist on making the parents completely disappear?


I did like Lucas, the boy who also witnessed the attack and who also did nothing. He was a much more complex character than Emily. On the surface he’s just another football player, but there were layers to Lucas and I did enjoy watching those layers get peeled back one at a time. Even so, I still didn’t really connect. I never fell in love with his character and I never fully cared about him.


And our third main character was Belinda. Belinda is a brave girl and I admired her for that. I admired the fact that she could talk about difficult things that I might not be able to talk about. With her developmental disability she’s more childlike and because of that, she pretty much says what she’s thinking. And that’s actually refreshing. It’s a nice change of pace from constantly worrying about being politically correct, or adhering to social niceties. I enjoyed watching Belinda work through what happened to her and become an even stronger person than before.


I think that this whole story was really important, but I really wanted to connect to the characters more. Not much happens as far as plot goes, but that would have been okay had I had that emotional connection I was craving. I expected to be moved to tears and I wasn’t. A lot of the time, I was actually bored and I even briefly considered putting the book down. Not because I hated it, but just because I didn’t really care about the outcome. I think that people can still learn something from this book and I would love more books like this focusing on mental health and the difficulties those people experience to be out in the world. But this one just didn’t quite do it for me.


Have you read this one yet? What did you think? 

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4 responses to “Review: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

  1. I recently got a chance to read it and loved it. Yet when I think about it now I understand where you are coming from and agree with you. Thank you for sharing! Did you read the author's debut novel? I think it's a bit more powerful.

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