Author: Cammie McGovern
Published: November 10, 2015
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Neither of us is exactly living the dream. But we’re living something and that’s more than either of us expected this year.’
In A Step Towards Falling, Cammie McGovern tells a poignant, compelling story of not judging people on appearances and knowing how to fix the things you’ve broken.
Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing – until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.
Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a centre for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?
I really loved McGovern’s book, Say What You Will. So, when I saw another book by the same author on sale, I snatched it up! I wish I could say that I love A Step Toward Falling just as much, but I can’t. Unfortunately, in trying to make the story and circumstances believable, McGovern actually made the story more frustrating than anything else. When Emily and Lucas didn’t say or do anything for Belinda when she was attacked, the principal and “discipline committee” make it sound like they are just as bad as the attacker. I absolutely do not agree with that. We all know that teens are idiots; they’re immature children trying to act like adults. Society has this wonderful habit of changing its tune to fit whatever its narrative is at the time. I don’t mind the community service punishment, it’s just all the dramatics of calling a disciplinary hearing and requiring the kids to defend themselves that felt “kangaroo court-ish” to me.
McGovern was trying to salvage some likability for Emily and Lucas, but didn’t adjust the plot accordingly. For the record, of course it was wrong for the kids to just walk by without intervening; both Emily and Lucas acknowledge that very quickly. But one thing that McGovern is excellent at is portraying disabled people with empathy instead of pity. I liked all of the disabled characters in this book. I liked the way we can see into Belinda’s mind with clarity and realism. It’s a great way to look at her as a person as opposed to a label. Emily and Lucas were so sweet and redeemed themselves perfectly. Overall, I enjoyed this book. All that annoyance I felt at the beginning of the book, dissipated relatively quickly. This is actually a pretty good book for teens to read, with a little discussion. As I said with Say What You Will, learning the perspective of others is never a bad thing. A pretty good read!
Amazon US This post was created Saturday and when I (Jessica) was looking up the links on Amazon- I saw the paperback was just $4.19, so I grabbed a copy! You can’t loose at that price!!!! Hopefully at posting the book is still cheap!
Author: Nic Stone
Published: October 17, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 21-26, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.
Dear Martin succeeded for me where The Hate U Give failed: It captured the police brutality and racism that sadly does occur on a black teen youth who did everything right.
Dear Martin is a unique novel in the young adult genre: we have a male point of view! This was quite refreshing as male POVs are a rarity. This is a short novel ( just over 200 pages) that would be perfect for all teens. There are other subjects addressed that teens face today.
I really liked Justyce! He really is a good kid who finds himself in a bad situation more than once. You feel all the emotions he experiences. I really enjoyed the letters he writes to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we really get to know Justyce. I found myself wishing that MLK Jr. was still alive to answer and give advice to Justyce. In some ways I felt I got to know MLK Jr. himself.
Dear Martin takes place in Atlanta and I live in Metro Atlanta, which added to my enjoyment. When certain areas were mentioned (“Let’s go hike Stone Mountain”: OMG, I’ve been there MANY times!) Nic Stone lives in the Atlanta area so she is local to me, and I am all about supporting ‘local to me’ authors!
Dear Martin was Stone’s debut novel and I look forward to see what she does next. Her second novel Odd One Out will be released October 9th. Dear Martin is one that everyone should read!
Dear Martin is very highly recommended.
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Published: June 9, 2015
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4.5 stars
The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.
And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.
Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.
This is the second time I’ve read Minnow Bly and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first. Stephanie Oakes has a way of drawing the reader into the story and immersing them in the lives of the characters. I identified with Minnow since I also grew up in a cult-like environment. Thankfully my parents had brains and used them to think for themselves and there was no violence, so I wasn’t affected at all like Minnow was. I’ll admit that there is a huge difference between the school I went to and a cult. 😊
I also love how Oakes manages to draw the mystery out to the very end. She kept the scope relatively small and intimate; everything stayed believable and realistic. Minnow was a likable character that I had no problem rooting for even when the possibility of wrongdoing came into play. The idea of her missing hands made her more fascinating. And that brings me to the missing .5 star. I don’t like how the cover has a girl with hands holding a book . . . Minnow doesn’t have hands, why would you put a girl with hands on the cover??? Petty and picky, I know, but I can’t help it! Y’all know that covers mean a lot to me, so you can’t expect me to not analyze the cover! But overall, I really loved this book! Between this book and The Arsonist, I’m at the point that I will pick up anything written by Stephanie Oakes without question. I would definitely reserve this book for older teens, because there is some language. But I think anyone who enjoys brainy, psychological reads will enjoy this book!