A Special Needs Student Is Sexually Assaulted At A Football Game While Two Classmates Do Nothing To Stop It. This Is The Premise For One Of The Best Teen Reads Of 2015.

stepMy friend Sarah shared this book on Facebook.  The author one of her fellow Kenyon College grads.  Sarah’s picks are always great.  I was worried about reading this book.  I have a special needs daughter and the thought of her being assaulted is terrifying to me.  A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern is one of the best books of 2015.  It is told in alternating voices of two very different young women, Emily and Belinda.  Belinda is sexually assaulted at a football game.  Emily and football player, Lucas witness the attack and do nothing about it.  Emily is frightened and Lucas has his reasons.  Because they failed to act they are expected to serve community service hours at a class for the developmentally disabled on dating and boundaries.  What really happened and the events that led to it unfold throughout the story.  I love the way all three characters, Belinda, Emily and Lucas evolve throughout the story.  There is much more to Lucas then Emily realized.  The way their friendship developed was fascinating to me.  But my favorite part of this book was the voice of Belinda.  She is so honest and endearing.  Emily and Lucas become moved to help Belinda and students like her.  I found this story empowering and inspiring.  I enjoyed how Pride and Prejudice is weaved into the story.  The way the school acted with Belinda enraged me.  The teachers had the ability to create great opportunities for Belinda but chose not to.  I highly recommend this book to teens.  It would also work well in a classroom setting.  It has both male and female appeal.   It will be published on October 6, 2015.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss Belinda and Emily and how are they different.  How are they the same?

Discuss Emily’s first impression of Lucas.  How does it change during the book?

Discuss how Emily and Lucas did nothing while Belinda was being attacked?  Why do you think they froze?  Why did Emily freeze the first time she saw wrongdoing during flag corp?

Discuss Emily’s friendship with Richard and what it means to be in the nerd herd.

Discuss how Emily’s relationship with Lucas throughout the book.

What made Chad so unappealing?

How did the class change Lucas and Emily?

Discuss Lucas’s relationship with Debbie?

Discuss this passage, “Suddenly Lucas will look ordinary to me again, like a regular person.  It’s almost like I need to get away from him to over inflate him again in my mind.”

Discuss how Pride and Prejudice compares to the relationships and boundaries class.

Discuss how Emily tries to convince the principal to create a peer program for special ed students at her school.  Is this something you would be willing to do?  Discuss this passage, “These aren’t students who need protection from the real world, they need experience in it.  Clubs and activities will offer them a chance to get that experience.”

Discuss “Choose carefully the people whose approval you seek.”


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