MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Step Toward Falling

by Cammie McGovern

A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern X
A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2015, 368 pages
    Dec 2016, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Bradley Sides
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Print Excerpt


At our first meeting with the director of the Life-long Learning Center, Lucas doesn't speak to me once. Elaine, the director, thanks us for "volunteering our time" even though she knows we aren't here voluntarily. We all know this.

"You have a choice," she says. "You can come in Saturday mornings and do office work or you can come Wednesday evenings for a class called Boundaries and Relationships that goes over basic rules about socializing and dating for young adults with developmental disabilities. Even though you're a few years younger, you'll provide examples of a typical peer's approach to friendships and dating. They'll be interested in what you do on dates and how you go about making new friends, that kind of thing."

I can just imagine what my friend Richard will say when I tell him this: "Wait, they're looking at you as a dating role model?"

I turn and look at Lucas. I expect him to say, "I'll take the office work, please." All things considered, the idea of sitting with a group of young adults with disabilities looking for dates seems like—well, like more than either one of us bargained on. Except here's the surprise: I want to do the class. I'm terrible at office work. Plus, I'm curious.

Then, before I can say anything, Lucas announces: "Yeah, I'll do the class." He doesn't even look at me. He seems to be pretending I'm not in the room.

"I will, too," I say. I'm not going to do office work just because sitting in the same room with Lucas will be super awkward. Forget that.

The following Wednesday, we come in an hour before class starts to meet with Mary, who teaches the class, and go over what she expects from us. Apparently not too much, at least in the beginning. She says we'll mostly do the activities along with the group. "We do a few role-plays every class and I may ask you to join some of those. Do either one of you have acting experience?"

I glance at Lucas, who still refuses to look at me. "No," he says.

"Some," I say. "When I was younger. Not for a while."

Mary smiles at me like she can tell that I'll probably be better at this than Lucas. Lucas plays football at our school, meaning he's huge and—not to be mean—a little scary-looking.

"Wonderful, Emily," Mary says now. "Do you have any improv experience?"

"A little," I say. "I was in a comedy troupe once, except we weren't very funny." In middle school, the drama club tried to start an improv group. We lasted one semester and then gave up.

Mary laughs. "Oh, I know all about that. Don't worry, we're not playing for laughs here, thank heavens."

We finish up with twenty minutes before class starts, so Mary tells us to wait in the lobby until the other students arrive. It's awkward, of course, as sitting in every waiting room with Lucas has been for the last two weeks. He pulls out his phone as he always does. I pull out a book as I always do. After five minutes, I can't stand it anymore and lean toward him.

"I'm Emily, by the way. I know you're Lucas, but maybe you don't know my name, so there you have it. Emily."

He looks up. "I know your name."

Richard always warns me not to get too sarcastic with people who have no visible sense of humor. "They don't take it well," he tells me. "They think you're making fun of them. Because usually you are." But I can't help it.

"Oh, okay. Well, as long as we're doing this together for the rest of the semester, I just thought I'd make sure. We don't need to be friends or anything, but maybe the odd hello wouldn't kill us."

"I don't know about that," Lucas says, twisting around in his chair. "This may kill us. We'll have to see."

I can hear Richard's voice in the back of my head: You shouldn't go around telling stupid people what you think all the time. First of all, they won't understand what you're saying because they're stupid. Secondly, they'll hate you.

Excerpted from the book A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern. Copyright © 2015 by Cammie McGovern. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins.

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