New YA Fiction: Say What You Will – Cammie McGovern

McGovern’s first teen novel Say What You Will catapulted her onto the YA scene. It was an Indie Next pick, a PW Best Book of 2014, an EW YA Novel to Watch Out For, and a People Magazine Pick. This second novel brings the same sense of character, wit and compassion to the story of two successful, overachieving high school seniors whose failure to intervene in an attack on a disabled student lands them in community service. What might sound like an “Afterschool Special” kind of plot is lifted to a whole new level by the writing; it arrives with three starred advance reviews.

 “Without evading or sugarcoating difficult topics, McGovern shows that disabled and able aren’t binary states but part of a continuum—a human one.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Told in alternating sections of Emily’s and Belinda’s voices, this book explores how even good people can fail morally. Belinda is written thoughtfully and respectfully. She has a distinct voice that reflects her cognitive disabilities but without condescension. The parallel romances are charming and appropriate. Highly recommended for realistic fiction collections.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)

Alternating viewpoints illustrate how braving the uncertainty of relationships, expectations, and life after high school transcends class or ability. The sensitive overview of tough issues gracefully balances romance with reality. Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate this unconventional homage.”
   — Kirkus Reviews

“Through alternating chapters, Emily comes to understand her inaction, prejudices, and failings, and Belinda learns to face her fears, find her voice, and take charge of her future. The growth undergone by the girls is deliberately similar and carefully paced, as each faces her own shortcomings and opens to the possibility of love with someone other than her romantic ideal. In a final exploration of support and maturation, Emily orchestrates a meaningful way to make amends to Belinda. McGovern’s ample experience with special needs youth is evident, as it allows this unique story shine from within.”
— ALA Booklist (starred review)

A Step Toward Falling (9780062271136) by Cammie McGovern. $17.99 hardcover. 10/6/15 on sale.

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