Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 303

Illustration of PDF document

Download A Step Toward Falling Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Emily, the protagonist and narrator of Camille McGovern's novel, states early in the novel:

I wonder if Lucas is as nervous as I am. I don't know what I was expecting, but now that I'm here, these people suddenly seem—well, really disabled. One is blind, judging by the cane he had laid sideways across his lap. Another is paying more attention to picking his nose than to anything we're saying,.

Thus the novel begins in medias res (in the middle of events), as Emily and Lucas embark on a class at the Lifelong Learning Center (for developmentally disabled individuals), where they have been ordered to complete community service. They find themselves in this position as a result of not having stepped in to intervene when their classmate from school Belinda was being attacked. In these first few pages, we glimpse Emily's stark realization that disabilities are as diverse as they are palpable in her new environment.

From Belinda's point of view, she tells the reader that

Sometimes I do things that make the reader have uncomfortable thoughts. If I talk too much about Colin Firth, first instance, it gives teachers uncomfortable thoughts. Once Rhonda, my speech therapist, told me her uncomfortable thought: "I'm bored with Colin Firth. I don't even know him. He lives far away and I don't want to talk about him anymore!"

Belinda's narration gives readers some insights into her circumstances and interior thoughts, showcasing the extent of her developmental disability. She continues, "I can't imagine being bored with Colin Firth. That's because I love him and sometimes when he looks out at me from inside the TV screen, I'm pretty sure he loves me, too." Belinda's beliefs are grounded in her sense of reality, but she experiences a reality completely out of touch with that of her peers.