If you have not read the first part of this review, click here. The book's information, and Ms. Eliot's website are located on that post.
I've decided to revisit Anne Eliot's How I Fall, because I realize that I missed out and did not expand on so many valid points as to why this novel should be considered one of the greatest novels to graze the planet. Some of these points I have already mentioned in my previous post, but it doesn't hurt to reiterate them.
5 Reasons to Read How I Fall
1) This is a young adult romance in which one teenager has a disability and the other teenager does not.
How I Fall is about Ellen Foster, a girl who is affected with mild Cerebral Palsy. Her long time crush, Cam Campbell, is not afflicted by any physical disability of any kind. In fact, he is the star of the football team, so he has a huge physical ability. This is covered in large detail over on Part One of the review. The shorter version of this is that two teenagers or people do not need to have the same issues to fall in love. People can understand and empathize with one another without going through the exact same experience.
2) Because of this, it gets rid of the dividing line between "disabled" and "fully-abled".
In society, people are often discriminated on basis of their disability. People are viewed as different and sometimes even avoided in several public settings. This can even affect romance. In the high school setting, where this novel takes place, most teenagers will not speak to someone who is viewed as an outcast or appears different. But in Anne Eliot's How I Fall, Cam overcomes his fears to talk to the girl that he loves. This book shows that the dividing line and "fears" about disabled individuals does not have to exist.
3) Every character in this novel has substance.
Ellen Foster, Cam, Laura and Patrick are the four main characters in this novel. Each of these characters is very well crafted and developed. I will just provide a little snippet on how each character (beside Ellen, because she is the main character) develops throughout the book. There may be spoilers.
Cam: The reader learns that Cam, while star of the football team, does not really want to play football in college. The reader learns that Cam also has problems with talking to his father - he would rather injure himself than disappoint his father by saying no.
Laura: The reader learns that Laura remains as clumsy as she was when we had a first encounter. The reader also learns that Laura loves to make friends but that she also has some of her own insecurities. The reader learns that Laura will stick by her friends, no matter what the cost. Also, Laura may not get the hint when it comes to Tiger Beanies. :)
Patrick: The reader learns throughout the novel that Patrick is reserved. His main desire is to keep Ellen Foster safe and away from harm. The reader also learns that it takes a lot to gain Patrick's trust, and Cam has to prove that. The reader also learns that Patrick is a great friend, not just to Ellen, but to all of his friends.
***End Spoiler Alert***
The greatest thing about this novel is that even the adult characters have substance. The story is not focused on them and the reader only sees parts of their personality and daily life. Nash, Cam's mother and father, Ellen's mother and even Laura's boyfriend Casper have their own personalities. I will describe two of these characters.
Nash: The reader learns that Nash is very protective. Once Nash gets something, or starts to have any kind of relationship, he doesn't want to let it go. He is also very protective of other people - always offering support and advice to whoever needs it. Nash is always looking out for other's safety, especially Ellen, but this could be his downfall, as sometimes he oversteps his boundaries with her.
Cam's Father: The reader learns that Cam's father is very controlling. He believes he knows what is best for Cam, and what his father may be doing to try and help Cam with scholarships, may actually hurt who he is as an individual. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Cam's father has his own problems to deal with as well.
***End of Spoiler Alert***
4) Everyone can connect with this story.
This story follows young love, crushes in high school, and the anxiety that comes along with it. This story follows disabilities, challenges, and the struggle to be viewed as normal. This story follows the "popular", the "not-so-popular", and those who just do not care what their "high school status" is. This story follows a group of friends, classmates, and the people who are struggling or just do not realize where they fit in. This story follows the jocks, but in a sense, it also follows the cheerleaders and the photographers. This story follows everyone, and it would be very difficult to turn it down.
5) Physical and mental challenges are not depicted enough in today's literature.
However, in this story, they are. It doesn't take much to see that most books do not contain characters with a physical or mental challenge. While this number is increasing, it is important to see literary characters that a person can connect with. Increasing the number of physically and mentally challenged characters may help to create a connection that a reader with these challenges has never experienced before. This book allows readers with these types of challenges to identify with the story, closer than they ever have before. I know I don't speak for everyone, but I was very ecstatic when I found a character that I could connect with. Everyone should be given that chance, and How I Fall allows that to happen.
I would like to end my review on this note: Ellen may have Cerebral Palsy, but Cerebral Palsy does not have her.