A Step Toward Falling (Paperback)

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"A beautiful, big-hearted book with important lessons embedded in compelling stories of two irresistible girls. Expertly executed and movingly realized.” New York Times Book Review

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.

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 Say What You Will as well as the adult novels Neighborhood Watch, Eye Contact, and The Art of Seeing. 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.

Praise For…

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.” — New York Times Book 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.” — Publishers Weekly (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.” — School Library Journal (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.” — ALA Booklist (starred review)

“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.” — Chicago Tribune

“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.” — Justine Magazine

“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.” — Kirkus Reviews

“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.” — The Horn Book

“This book might lead to an interesting discussion about responsibility, about standing up for someone, about doing the right thing.” — Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

“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.” — The Globe and Mail

“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.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“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.” — Examiner.com

“Readers will fall more in love with the characters the more they read.” — TeenReads.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.” — BookBrowse.com

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.” — Ron Koertge, author of Stoner & Spaz

“A unique and unforgettable love.” — Teen Vogue

“Exhilarating and heartrending.This novel is stunning.” — ALA Booklist (starred review)

“Readers will be surprised, moved, amused, worried, hopeful, and grateful.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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-determination. Ultimately, a deeply engaging and rewarding story.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A beautifully written story about two teens who find each other in spite of what might seem like insurmountable problems.” — Examiner.com (5 star review)

“It’s a little bit ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ a little bit ‘Eleanor & Park’ and a lot of something else entirely. A young adult book with grown-up lessons.” — Metro US

“Wonder meets Eleanor and Park in this authentic romance with beautifully crafted characters.” — IndieBound.org

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062271143
ISBN-10: 0062271148
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: December 20th, 2016
Pages: 384
Language: English