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 feel like I’ve been saying (or typing) this a lot recently, but I was not expecting the plot of this book at all! (I think I’ve been judging books by their covers and titles a little too much . . .) I picked up this book thinking from the cover and the title that it would be a romance, and then when I read the blurb and started reading it, I realised that it was so much more than just a romance.
The main thing that the book addressed was not judging others based on appearances, and learning to decide on what you think about someone from their actions and words, not from their looks. This was echoed by Belinda’s favourite book, Pride and Prejudice, which they ended up putting on a play of, and I thought it tied in absolutely perfectly with the book, and it really gave me a lot to think about. I liked that Emily not only misjudged Belinda because of her developmental disabilities, which was the more serious case of making assumptions, but she also judged Lucas because he was a footballer with a relatively high social standing. I thought this was good because it showed how there are many things you can judge a person on, and it made Emily a little more likable, as she seemed generally a little judgemental instead of seeming as if she was only judging Belinda.
Another thing I loved about this book was how interesting the characters were. While I didn’t warm to Emily right away, because of her involvement in the incident that meant she had to do community service, and because she lied to her friends about it, I soon came to appreciate her flaws, and admire her for her strong desire to set right her wrongs, and overall I thought she had a fantastic character arc. I also thought that Lucas was admirable in that he removed himself from the popular crowd because he didn’t like their morals, regardless of what that may have done to his own popularity levels.
Books are important because they teach messages and create positive ideas, and one of the many ways in which this book was positive was in its representation of the disabled community. Belinda, one of the protagonists, wasn’t defined by her disability; she was smart and hard-working and loving, and while her disability partially shaped the plot, it was only a small part of who she was, and the same could be said for all the other characters with disabilities in the book.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed A Step Towards Falling. Not only was there an excellent romance – the characters got to know each other first, and bonded over doing something nice for Belinda – but there was also positivity and a very strong message of acceptance. I am looking forward to reading some of Cammie McGovern’s other books if they are all as good as this one!
A Step Towards Falling was first published on the 6th of October 2015 by HarperTeen, and on the 11th of August by Macmillan Children’s Books (I think the second release date is when it came out in the UK). You can find out more on Goodreads here, or purchase a copy on Amazon here.