How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo (Young Adult)
Wow. This book grabbed me from page one and didn’t let go. It immediately sets the stage: Nikki, the seventeen-year-old narrator, is volunteering in a rehab center, fulfilling a community service requirement after being accused of cyber-bullying. Although others were involved, the incident has turned her into a pariah in her small New Jersey town. She has lost all of her privileges at home, her parents barely acknowledge her, and her friends have abandoned her. In her senior year, she’s forced to go to a new high school after being expelled from the one where she was a cheerleader, an accomplished stage performer, and one of the most popular girls in her class. Notoriety dogs her; once strangers realize who she is, they reject her, adding to the terrible loneliness that has become her norm.
Except for Pax. Matthew Paxton is an attractive, athletic young man close to her age who comes to the rehab center to play wheelchair rugby. An automobile accident two years before has left him paralyzed from the chest down. When he attempts to befriend her, she tells him her story up front—no use prolonging the inevitable rejection, she thinks. Instead he says he believes in fresh starts, and for the first time in a long time, she has a friend. But then, that’s how he insists they keep it—strictly friends—in spite of a growing mutual romantic attraction.
While this story could have descended into darkness or a pity party, it never did. Nikki’s narration is full of personality that made me like her immediately and care about her future. Pax is a survivor with just the right amount of vulnerability to keep him from being a cliché. Their dialogue rings true, and Nikki’s priorities are realistic for her age while showing real growth by the end of the novel. I believe young adult readers, as well as adults in general, will find these characters engaging and the book hard to put down.
Grandma gives How to Keep Rolling After a Fall five stars.
Potty-mouth Index: MINOR
Bella Reads and Reviews received How to Keep Rolling After a Fall from the publisher as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.