Title: A Step Toward Falling
Author: Cammie McGovern
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 361 Pages
Published October 2015
Summary: 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?
I was a big fan of another book by Cammie McGovern, Say What You Will, so I had high hopes for this book as well. (You can read my review of that book by clicking here.) After reading this one, I definitely still think that I enjoyed Say What You Will better, but this book definitely was still an enjoyable read.
As the summary explains, the story follows Emily and Belinda, two girls with totally different stories. It was at a high school football game that Emily stumbled across Belinda being sexually attacked by another boy, and for some inexplicable reason, she panics and doesn't get her any help. So does Lucas, a football player that happens to cross paths with the scene as well.
So now the story picks up after the incident, when Belinda is refusing to go back to school and Emily and Lucas are still trying to cope with the guilt of each assuming that the other person was going to get help. So what they decide to do is finally find a way to show Belinda how sorry they are by doing something to help her this time -- so the question is, will it work?
What I liked about this book was that there was no deflecting the blame. Neither Emily nor Lucas tried to blame the other person entirely -- they both accepted that they were wrong. So they both decided to work on dealing with the consequences together, even if in the beginning they definitely don't like each other.
The story is told in alternating chapters between Emily and Belinda, and getting into Belinda's head was certainly an interesting experience. Even though she's developmentally disabled, Belinda is still very, very sharp, and she knows enough to know who wronged her. But even though Belinda had every single right to hate Emily and Lucas for the rest of her life, she was kind and compassionate, and even gave them a chance to redeem themselves. Of all of the characters in this book, I definitely have to say that Belinda was my favorite. She may have not been the smartest or the most popular kid in school, but she had more kindness in her pinkie finger than a great deal of students did.
Watching Lucas and Emily interact with all of the adults at the learning center was also super touching to read about. They realized that there were more problems in the world than being benched for football games and missed homework assignments, and it was interesting to watch them learn that lesson. Every week they had to work with adults who had to take classes on how to have basic social skills, and it really puts things into perspective.
By the end of the book, I definitely think I saw a positive change in Lucas, Emily, and Belinda. The classes taught Lucas and Emily how to be much more compassionate and upstanding people, and Belinda's interactions with them taught her to branch out and that it was okay to let other people in again.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It wasn't anything that knocked off your socks or evoked passionate emotions because it was so epic, but it was definitely an enjoyable read that I'd recommend for anyone looking for a nice, heartwarming read. Cammie McGovern is a very good author and I'll definitely be reading more work from her in the future!