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A Step Toward Falling

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  3,139 ratings  ·  546 reviews
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.

ebook, 384 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen
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Pages For Thoughts Emily's best friend is gay, but it's not a huge focus of the book. It's not an LGBT book, it's just that one of the characters fits that category. …moreEmily's best friend is gay, but it's not a huge focus of the book. It's not an LGBT book, it's just that one of the characters fits that category. (less)

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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,139 ratings  ·  546 reviews

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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

The snowpocalypse doomsdayers are predicting an ice storm to roll into town some time tomorrow, which is making me pretty much feel like this . . . .

So I’m going to go ahead and barf out this review before I die from being impaled by a falling icicle.

I’m the first of my friends to read A Step Toward Falling, but I have a feeling there’s a whooooooooole bunch of snowflakes out there who will be oh so offended by everything containe
Sarah Elizabeth
2.5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

For me, this book is missing a word from its title. It should be ‘A Step Toward Falling Asleep’, because this book was so dull that I had problems keeping my eyes open.

The characters in this were okay, but I didn’t love them. I could understand why Emily would freeze up rather than getting help for Belinda, but for the rest of the book I couldn’t really relate to he
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Not only was it a pleasure to see these characters learn more about themselves and how to more kindly interact with those around them, I too felt like I learned a lot. It challenged me to think about how I would behave and react if I were in their places...and gave me some great tools and ideas for being kinder and braver and more open to others in the future.

Really good stuff. If I were a high school librarian I'd push this one like crazy...
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
this book was so important and realistic and adorable and great. although there were definitely times where i got kinda annoyed at the MC and thought the writing could've improved a bit. other than that I T WAS GREAT <333 ...more
Jen Ryland
Books like this are why I don't give stars. I'd want to award this book bonus stars for being so incredibly well-meaning, but if I'm completely honest, at times the story dragged and at other times I felt lectured to and I struggled to keep reading.

This also bothered me: the book started out as if it was going to center around an attempted rape and its repercussions, but then seemed to not want to address that fully, just tell a story about prejudging others and how people with disabilities are
Taylor Knight
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book when I started it but I ended up really loving it.
To be completely honest, it was slow most of the time. But I didn't find it to be boring at all.
I really liked the chapters from Belinda's perspective. I thought she was the most interesting character and I really liked getting to know her.
Miranda Lynn
DNF after 32 pages

NOPE, I can't do it. I gave this book a decent try, but I just couldn't stand it.

Belinda's sections were excruciating to read, as much as I wish that wasn't true.

And I am SO against Emily being punished for something that is 0% her fault and which she tried to stop by outright telling a teacher. Like, I'm sorry, but that just makes me want to tear the pages out of this book, it's so frustrating. And Emily just takes it like "Okay, sure, I deserve this. I did something wrong."
Jasmine (Jasmine Pearl Reads)
Book: A Step Toward Falling
Author: Cammie McGovern
Finished Reading: September 30, 2015 (Wednesday)

I would like to thank Harper Collins International for sending me an ARC of this book. This doesn't affect nor influence my review.

Let me just tell you that this line made me weep deep inside. How true is this? How genuine is this line? This line sounds cliché to some people but the thought is on point. It is ALWAYS on point!

I’ll give you enough reasons on why you should read and buy this book when
My thanks to HarperTeen

Point of View: Dual (Emily &Belinda)
Writing: First Person | Present Tense
Setting: N/A
Genre: Young Adult | Realistic Fiction

It's clear that I wasn't completely head over heel in love with this book because at time it was confusing since there weren't any indications that the scene I was reading had happened before the incident or afterward. It too
Fafa's Book Corner
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Going into this one, I knew it would be serious. I mean, it's about two people who have to volunteer at a center for disabled people after not standing up for a disabled person being attacked. I was intrigued and wanted to see if the two characters would actually learn from this mistake and become better people.

When Emily sees a disabled classmate named Belinda being attacked under the bleachers at a football game, she freezes and finds herself walking away from the altercation. Thankfully, Bel
Lisa (lifeinlit)
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2015
3.5 stars!

A Step Toward Falling is told through alternating viewpoints of Emily and Belinda. These two are both students who attend the same high school. Though they know each other, they don't really interact much. Emily stumbles across Belinda, a disable teen, being sexually assaulted by a football player under the bleachers... and does nothing. She sees someone else walk by and assumes they will take care of it, so she leaves the scene. Luckily, Belinda was able to save herself, since that ot
Sep 28, 2015 rated it liked it
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern didn’t show up on my radar until a few weeks ago when I started seeing all the glowing praise from fellow readers. I knew that I had to read it instantly. I feel like there’s been a sad lack of incredible contemporaries in my life this year and I wanted this book to fill that gap.

I think the premise for A Step Toward Falling is pretty amazing. Lucas and Emily witness something horrible and do nothing. They are then ‘punished’ by having to attend a weekly
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern definitely carried a good concept and noble intentions, but I think the story lost its way somewhere towards the mid-point. I found myself trying to just finish it up with no real interest in the outcome at the end.

In this novel, we meet Emily and Lucas who are both high school students that witness a horrible act at a football game and fail to take action. When the school investigates the situation, Emily and Lucas are held accountable for not coming to
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Original review can be found at

** I received an advanced readers copy from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! **

This book says so much more than just the words that are found on the page. I work in the developmental services field and I can tell you that the struggles and challenges that were presented in this book are real and present for many people. The questions and conversations around relationships and jobs and sch
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pitch-perfect and wholly enjoyable. From descriptions one might worry that this could become heavy-handed, but it's not at all: it's a thoughtful, gentle page-turner filled with laugh-out-loud moments (and a little bit of "I've got something in my eye.")

I will give it to my teen readers, but I also want to give pass it on to adults I know. McGovern's full cast of flawed yet sympathetic characters are worth spending time with, and the subject of empathy and redemption is handled with nuance and m
Hannah McBride
Jun 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
I wish there was a way to give this no stars or rate it negative stars. This book offended me in every way possible. If you live with or work with adults with cognitive disabilities, don't read this book - you'll be furious at the stereotypes and misrepresentation. If you don't interact regularly with people with disabilities, don't use this as a basis for what it's like. ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-2015
This book was an emotional roller coaster but I absolutely loved every minute of it!
A very important and influential read surrounding honesty, understanding, and embracing difference.
Mishma Nixon
I was really intrigued by the message this book was trying to convey. The tagline, "Sometimes, the worst thing you can do, is nothing at all " got me hooked - and is actually a really powerful quote if you think about it further - and all I wanted to know by reading this book is whether the book lived up to its potential and promise or not.

Emily is a high school activist. She speaks up for things, and she is a smart, respected and a decently popular girl in her school. So when she comes across a
Jess at Such a Novel Idea
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
This originally appeared on Such a Novel Idea.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I was a huge fan of Cammie McGovern’s first book, Say What You Will, so I was pretty excited to see what she would do with this book. And I have to say, I really enjoyed reading it.

I have a son with moderate to severe autism, so reading books about people with disabilities is something I both seek
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A Step Toward Falling is a book that is beautifully written and has a wonderful message of friendship and love, of fear and bravery, and of learning to reach out and stand up. This is a book that is well worth reading.

Lucas and Emily. One a successful football player and part of the popular social group at school, the other an academic activist. Now they are connected by one night where they both failed to act when Belinda, a fellow student with developmental disabilities, was being attacked. As
Dark Faerie Tales
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-by-zed
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A thought provoking read.

Opening Sentence: At our first meeting with the director of the Lifelong Learning Center, Lucas doesn’t speak to me once.

The Review:

The story is told from three perspectives: Belinda; the disabled victim of a traumatic experience and Emily and Lucas; the two high school students who witnessed Belinda being assaulted yet did not call for help. Although they did not intend to leave Belinda helpless, neither were brave enou
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

I read Cammie McGovern’s debut, Say What You Will, two years ago and highly enjoyed the way she writes characters with disabilities. These types of YA novels come few and far among the dystopian and cute-sy contemporaries, so it’s always refreshing to read about a story that probes deeper into the lesser-explored notions of society and human nature. Although her latest, A Step Toward Falling, isn’t as hard-hitting as her debut, I still adored A Step Toward Falling and think it’s influenti
Gary Anderson
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’m glad authors like Cammie McGovern are writing books like A Step Toward Falling. McGovern’s 2015 novel gives us two alternating narrators: Belinda, a young woman with cognitive disabilities nearing the end of her high school years who is reluctant to return to school after being sexually assaulted under the bleachers at a football game; and Emily, a high school senior who witnessed the attack on Belinda but, because she did nothing about it, is required to “volunteer” in a Boundaries and Rela ...more
Brandi Kosiner
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read A Step Toward Falling because I was interested in the bullying of a girl with disabilities. I think that it is such an important subject, and even though Emily wasn't the one doing the bullying, the silence of Emily when she saw it is the big turning point of the story. She is sentenced with community service working with young adults with disabilities.

The story is told in dual perspectives with Emily and Belinda, the said girl that was bullied. I am not sure that I have ever
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss

A Step Toward Falling is a Young Adult contemporary novel that could also be classified as realistic fiction. This is my first book by author Cammie McGovern.

The narrators of this book are 17 year old Emily and 21 year old Belinda.

When the book starts high school students Emily and Lucas are starting community service at a center for people with disabilities. We know that something happened. But we don't know why they are doing community service.

The book focuses a lot on Emily, Lucas and Belinda
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, in quite a few ways. While it does tackle some very serious subject matter, this is a relatively light, easy read. Still, the characterizations are good. On the surface, there are obvious themes here - don't judge others on appearances, forgive others and seek forgiveness, treat others with dignity and compassion, and "Choose carefully the people whose approval you seek." (pg. 350) - but thankfully, they all go a bit deeper than that.

Worth not
Jenny Jo Weir
Sweet, endearing and thoughtful.

I like the way the subject matter is addressed and I liked the progression of the story itself. I enjoyed understanding the different angles and was easily engulfed by this book.

I will say I wish a certain someone would have been more forthright sooner and I struggled with the weird secrets between best friends but high school is full of struggles for everyone, so I'm not judging, just wish I could have related to it a tad more.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
"If I had done any of those things, I would have changed the story. Belinda would still have been attacked, but instead of learning the brutal truth about violent people, she would also have learned that there are people in the world who will help her. "

This book is a fresh addition to YA with issues of advocacy, disability and tolerance. The audiobook was especially well done :)
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Mock Printz 2022: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern 4 95 Feb 23, 2016 09:23AM  

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Cammie McGovern was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and received the Nelson Algren Award in short fiction. Her work has been published in Redbook, Seventeen, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, and other publications.

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