A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

A Step Towards Falling

Written by Cammie McGovern

13+ readers   YA readers   
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In a Nutshell: Righting wrongs | Dispelling prejudice | Dramatic transformations

An absorbing, touching tale about stepping-up, seeing people for who they really are, and finding love when you least expect it.

Emily has always done the right thing. She and her gay friend Richard are dedicated to the Youth Action Coalition in their high school and campaign to change the world for good. But, after witnessing a horrific attack and doing nothing to help, Emily starts to question what kind of person she is. She and Lucas, a football player who also witnessed the attack and chose not to step in, must do community service in a Boundaries and Relationships class at their local Lifelong Learning Center as punishment.

The victim of the attack was their classmate, Belinda. She has special needs, a thing for Colin Firth and a love of Pride and Prejudice. She also “used to be a person who loved hugging people” but she’s had to learn that “there are rules around hugging”, and everything else. When she feels brave enough to return to school after the attack, Belinda’s not allowed back to her old mail-sorting job, which she did well and enjoyed. Instead she must sit in the nurse’s office with paper and coloured markers, “like I'm in pre-school”. Emily remembers how Belinda used to steal the shows put on by the Children’s Story Theater they both belonged to. Seeing how Belinda’s light has faded exacerbates her guilt and both she and Lucas are determined to do something to make amends. Their volunteering experience is also having a profound effect. The people they work with remind Emily of her “old self”: “These folks aren't childish; they just haven't lost the enthusiastic attachments I associate with children”. And so she and Lucas come up with the perfect plan to make Belinda feel like she did “when I was famous and people came up to me in grocery stores and said how good I was”.

There’s much soul-searching and romance along the paths of the characters’ inspirational journeys. Told with wit and warmth, this novel also overflows with moments that will break your heart - for example, when we experience the attack through Belinda’s eyes – and moments that will melt it. I’ll leave the last words to Belinda; after putting her own needs aside to help a friend, she realises that having a best friend is when “you care about them being happy as much as you care about yourself being happy. Maybe more”. ~ Joanne Owen


A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

'Neither of us is exactly living the dream. But we're living something and that's more than either of us expected this year.'

In A Step Toward Falling, Cammie McGovern tells a poignant, compelling story of not judging people on appearances and knowing how to fix the things you've broken. 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 centre 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?


Without evading or sugarcoating difficult topics, McGovern shows that disabled and able aren't binary states but part of a continuum - a human one. Publisher's Weekly

About the Author

Cammie McGovern

Cammie McGovern is the author of the adult novels Neighbourhood Watch, Eye Contact and The Art of Seeing. She is one of the founders of Whole Children, a resource centre that runs after-school classes and programmes for children with special needs. She lives in the US but travels to London regularly.

Cammie's sister is Elizabeth McGovern, one of the stars of Downton Abbey. This is her first book for young adults.

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Book Info


368 pages
Interest Age: From 12


Cammie McGovern
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Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

11th August 2016




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