Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The shy, nerdy Emily and the football player Lucas are an odd combination of protagonists in Cammie McGovern's A Step Toward Falling. They find themselves in a class together on relationships, after having witnessed an attack on Belinda, a girl from school with learning disabilities. The first narrator is Emily, and the second is Belinda. Belinda's style of narration is very different, as a reflection of the fact that the way her mind works is very different.
The novel follows two types of struggles: the first is the guilt experienced by Emily and Lucas (themselves very different), and the second the struggle of Belinda to go back to school.
Emily and Lucas are both trying to get Belinda to forgive them for what is conventionally called a "sin of omission" (a sin owing to not doing something that is right). Emily does this by spearheading Belinda's participation in the high school play "First Impressions" (an adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice).
Overall, A Step Toward Falling is an exposition on mental illness which promotes the legitimacy of recovery and second chances. It also reminds us that fiction (such as Jane Austen's popular novel featured herein) can be a useful lens through which to examine our personal relationships.