MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

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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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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2015, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2016, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Bradley Sides
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Why do you think Emily and Lucas failed to act when they saw Belinda being attacked? Do you agree that they are partially at fault? Do you think their community service assignment was a fair punishment?
  2. In the beginning of the book Emily makes a lot of assumptions about Lucas: "He probably thinks it's more my fault than his" (p. 16). Why do you think Emily is so quick to judge him? Do you think she was unfair?
  3. The book switches perspectives between Emily and Belinda. What do you think they have in common? How are they different? How is Belinda treated differently because of her disability?
  4. After a few sessions of class, Emily encourages her friends to stop using the word retarded to mean stupid. "For years this has been a standard insult I've heard often, but I'm shocked at how wrong this suddenly sounds to me" (p. 82). Why do you think Emily suddenly has strong feelings about the word? What do you think about the idea that using certain words in a derogatory way can hurt groups of people who have been labelled with that word? Is gay different than retarded in this case?
  5. What do you think of Belinda and Anthony's relationship? How is it similar to relationships you have with your friends?
  6. Nan does not want Belinda to go back to school because she is afraid for her safety. Why do you think Belinda wants to go back to school? What do you think the school should do to ensure a safe environment for Belinda and other students with disabilities? What do you think about Emily's argument that Belinda would have been safer if she'd been allowed to participate in more after school activities and have more experiences with her peers?
  7. What do you think of Lucas and Emily's relationship? How do their feelings for each other change over the course of the class? What do they learn about each other?
  8. Which couple seems to be do a better job of communicating honestly and supportively with each other? How do they communicate?
  9. When the school tells Emily and Lucas not to approach Belinda when she returns to school, they take matters into their own hands. Do you think they did the right thing? Do you think they should have left the situation alone?
  10. In the end, Emily and Lucas learn a lot about themselves and about relationships. In what ways did working with the class and with Belinda change them? What do you think Belinda learned from working with Emily and Lucas? How did you feel about the ending?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperTeen. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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