A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern
Published by: Macmillan Children’s
Format: ARC e-book
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I really like the fact that Cammie McGovern’s next book after Amy and Matthew contains another differently abled character. I hope that in her next books, I can always go to them knowing that they give a voice to a branch of diversity that isn’t often heard.
A Step Towards Falling is, and if you’ll excuse my Victorian Lit student voice coming through, a book about moral responsibility for other people. The subtitle pretty much explains that. If you see something bad happening to someone else, like Emily and Lucas witness Belinda being sexually harassed, and do nothing, it’s the worst possible thing. What’s so great about this book is how the characters defy stereotypes and go on a real journey to discover things about themselves they didn’t initially realise.
P L O T
Emily and Lucas, as punishment for not doing anything when Belinda was being assaulted, have to volunteer at a learning centre for people with special needs. They help out on a course all about relationships, which is essentially the underlying theme of the whole book.
They also seek to gain Belinda’s friendship and trust by putting on a play version of Pride and Prejudice, Belinda’s favourite thing in the world. I felt like the book took a long time to get to where it wanted to be, and dragged slightly in places. I don’t think this was helped by the fact that as soon as I picked the book up, I had to go and do something else so I could only read about 5% at a time! So, maybe my reading experience influenced my opinion there, but I do wish that the three of the characters had come together a lot sooner.
But because the witnessing of Belinda beings assaulted was the crux of the plot, I was expecting way more to come of it, for there to be a discussion of a bystander’s responsibilities, and for the attempted rapist to be punished, rather than just forgotten about. Surely it’s more important that the rapist is reprimanded? I don’t know. While in the end, theatre and its importance for young people ended up taking the spotlight, the change of direction confused me.
C H A R A C T E R S
While Belinda was characterised by her love of P&P and by the nuisances of her disability, Emily felt so bland in comparison. It was interesting to get into Belinda’s head and she how she felt and reacted to things, but Emily was such a vanilla character. I guess that’s what made her relatable, because not everyone has something remarkable going on in their lives. But, she definitely takes the biggest journey in overcoming prejudices, especially towards Lucas, who is initially thought to be a mindless jock but, hey, it turns out people are a lot less 2-D than labels will make you think.
Come to think of it, P&P plays a way bigger role than I thought. The relationship between Emily and Lucas is like that of Elizabeth and Darcy. There’s even a Wickham character, Chad, who seems like a cool guy but turns out to be a bit of a douchebag. Thank goodness the story of P&P is pretty universal, otherwise the parallels would be lost on some readers.
V E R D I C T
I’m sorry that I don’t have a lot of really insightful things to say about A Step Towards Falling and maybe that’s because, to me, so much of it was just average, with the only stand out being Belinda. I loved the diversity and the Jane Austen tributes but there was something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on… Still, I really would recommend this book, and Amy and Matthew if you’re interested in reading about more diversity!