Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Book Talk: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published by HarperTeen on October 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Emily sees Belinda, a girl from her school who is developmentally disabled, getting attacked under the bleachers and fails to act to help her. But she wasn’t the only one — a football player named Lucas also saw and did nothing to help her. The two are punished by the school when everything comes to light and are required to do community service at a classroom with disabled adults. Meanwhile, Belinda decides to come back to school after staying home for a while after the attack and is confronted by her old classmates and how things have changed in her absence.

a2Well, that was cute and heartwarming. Also, made me think a lot about the kids who I used to work with when I did Best Buddies in high school (is that still a thing in high school today??) and wonder how they were doing.


I though this was really enjoyable and heartwarming for the most part!

What I liked:

  1. Belinda: I LOVED the chapters that were Belinda’s. IMO she WAS this book for me. Belinda is developmentally disabled and I was glad to see her actually have POV in this novel rather than her just be a main character seen through Emily. I LOVED getting to know Belinda — she was definitely one of those characters that jumped off the pages for me which was nice because the other two main characters were a bit bland for me. There was so much I loved about Belinda and I enjoyed watching her learn some important lessons just as Emily and Lucas do. My heart broke for Belinda with everything she had been through and her hurt and confusion after what happened. I hated the microaggressions against her (even by adults!!) and the way she was laughed at by classmates or not given a fair chance because she was developmentally disabled. I worked with Best Buddies in high school and got to know a lot of the students in the special education classes and I wanted to rip throats out to anyone who was unkind to them or tried to get these students to things for a laugh or just didn’t treat them like people. I wish all students were required to spend time with these students so they could see them as PEOPLE.
  2.  The romance was cute: It wasn’t anything spectacular but I tend to enjoy romances where people don’t necessarily like each other at first or have misjudged one another and then SEE each other for who they are rather than who they were thought to be. I liked their conversations and their awkwardness.
  3.  “The message” — I hate calling it THE MESSAGE because like it sounds so cheesy. But I really did love how the story helped the characters learn some important lessons: like how wrong your judgements  about a person can be, to be kinder to those who you presume are different or whom you don’t understand, to stand up for what is right, how dangerous silence can be and how complicit you still are in that, and how important it is to stand with and up for those whose voices are silenced by society, are marginalized or not taken seriously. While sometimes all this was preachy and like HERE IS A LESSON, I genuinely did feel like Emily and Lucas did learn from Belinda and the classroom they had to volunteer in and it was shown in a thoughtful, realistic manner. It was a good reminder for myself to even think about how I treat people and think of people.

What I wanted more from:

  1. Emily: Emily was on the verge of being interesting character to me but not quite there. There was a lot I liked about Emily but I just wanted to feel MORE from her. She was your average girl who herself struggled to feel like she fit somewhere and she makes a big mistake by not speaking up when she saw Belinda being attacked, by letting her fear get in the way. You can relate to her guilt about how she reacted and you genuinely feel her learning more about herself and others. But there was just something missing for me with her…she just kind of felt flat.
  2.  Aspects of the attempted rape storyline: I obviously am not in expert in special education or what would happen in this sort of situation but I just feel like nobody really TALKED to Belinda about what happened? We know how she felt about the whole incident as it was happening and how it affected her afterwards but it just felt like there wasn’t much of anyone doing anything to help her process this. I also felt like it was a big thing that happened and was just kind of swept under the rug a bit.



factors+ the plot, Belinda, the cuteness of the romance, the “message”
–  flatness of Emily & Lucas as main characters, wished certain aspects would have been more fully realized, the book sometimes would drag at places

a5contemporary YA fans, readers looking for POVs from developmentally disabled characters (and can never find that in YA!!), readers looking for something with an ultimately uplifting message, adults looking for a good discussion worthy book to give teens

a8I enjoyed this one! It was heartwarming and thoughtful and I thought it was a good reminder for anyone to really think about their interactions, to be more empathetic and open to others and to not forget the people in the world who are looked down on, silenced, forgotten, experience prejudices or injustice or are not taken seriously. I can’t say it’s a favorite or one I’m going to demand that you all read because I wanted MORE in some aspects of it but I really did enjoy it overall.  I really do think it is an excellent book to get teens talking and thinking about the things presented!



a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Are there any other books you can think of that have MAIN CHARACTERS that have developmental disabilities?



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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I LOVE contemporaries and I think I’d enjoy this book because it’ll teach people to be more empathetic and to try to understand other people better and not be scared to get to know them just because they may be slightly different to others. Lovely review, Jamie! Will definitely see if my library/bookshop has this in! 🙂

    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic

  2. I have this book out from the library right now. I’m hoping to get to start it this weekend. Good review. I love her other books, so I’m looking forward to this one. 🙂