This book could have gone horribly wrong. It could have come off as insensitive. It could have featured a whiny and annoying protagonist.
But instead How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is an honest portrayal of consequences, mistakes, and how to learn to live with your life when everything gets turned upside down.
Nikki Baylor used to be on top at her high school – she was popular, she had a close-knit group of friends, and she basically could do whatever she wanted. It’s every high-school girl’s dream… that is until a terrible cyber bullying incident happens during a party she’s throwing at her house. She’s not solely responsible for what happened, but she’s the only one the authorities have hard evidence against, so she’s the one who takes the fall for it.
From the very beginning, you can tell there’s a lot more to her story than meets the eye, so while I felt she was responsible in many ways for what happened, I also felt bad for her because she definitely didn’t deserve a lot of the backlash she got. Her entire town – her school, her family, and even her friends – abandon her. It’s a pretty harsh Scarlet Letter –esque ostracizing for someone who is clearly remorseful and trying to make things right.
What got me the most is her parents. Nikki might just have the WORST fictional mom and dad combo of all time. Not only do they refuse to even sit down with their daughter and really discuss what happened, but they completely shut her out and treat her like a criminal in her own home. What happened was terrible, and Nikki deserved to be punished, but to have her own parents refuse to hear her side of the story felt pretty low to me. Especially considering that she was a good kid before the incident, with no prior incidents of bullying to her name. Everyone makes mistakes. And while those mistakes definitely have consequences (as they should), that doesn’t mean a person is evil just because they’ve done something wrong (or stood by and let others do something wrong for that matter.
I think Karole Cozzo does a great job of balancing that delicate line between what punishments are deserved and when it’s gone too far. Nikki isn’t simply a bully… nor is she the victim. It’s more complicated than that (as life often is).
By far, the best part of this book, though, was PAX. Oh my goodness, can I even begin to tell you how in-love I am with him???? This boy is definitely the next Augustus Waters of the YA romance world. He’s a freaking GEM. Here’s a guy who made a few wrong choices that resulted in him being paralyzed from the waist down. But instead of choosing to play the victim or the invalid, Pax is just Pax. He’s upfront about the limitations of his condition, and honest about the things he has to miss out on now, but he’s also wildly positive for a guy whose entire life got rearranged as the result of just a few short seconds. Sure, he has struggles he has to come to terms with too, but I just adore how easily he forgave Nikki – he saw that there was still so much to love in her, despite her past mistakes, and that’s something not even her freaking parents were willing to do.
This is a lighthearted book that tackles heavy topics well, and the love story is simply one you should not, under any circumstances, miss. If you’re looking for a quick read this summer that’ll also give you plenty to think about, How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is the perfect choice for you.
Rating: 4.3/5 stars