Title : How To Keep Rolling After A Fall
Author : Karole Cozzo
Genre : Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date : August 2nd, 2016
Publisher : Swoon Reads
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After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance in this swoonworthy new novel from the author of How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That’s all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl’s suicide. Now Nikki’s been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can’t look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates – almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it’s like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance… and everyone deserves to be loved.
How To Keep Rolling After A Fall is one of those books that reminds me why I prefer to read YA and adore it more than any other genre. You see, protagonists in YA have this charm and innocence that comes with youth, and the antagonists in YA are all capable of a total 180, ultimately becoming heroes of their own stories. There are no “good” or “bad” people in YA, only young people who can sometimes think they are invincible—and so make mistakes. I’d like to think that this is exactly the message that Karole Cozzo tried to convey through her book. This book is about a bully, you see, and that’s what makes it one of the rare gems in the genre.
Nikki Baylor used to be one of those perfect girls in her school—perfect clothes, gorgeous friends, attention from everyone. A party at her house, however, changes everything, when an incident almost leads to a girl’s suicide. Reeling in the aftermath of what this incident has done to her own reputation as well as that of her family, Nikki struggles to maintain a semblance of calm while her insides are in a state of constant turmoil. And so while she completes her hours of Community Service, she meets Pax, a wheelchair-bound young man who helps her in ways foreign to her up until then. Nikki was an interesting MC, bringing the perfect amount of guilt and helplessness, but also an aura of I don’t deserve this into the story—making it authentic and relatable. I did not understand her situation, having no personal experience of her circumstances, but I could easily imagine her plight and empathise. High school life revolves around friends and having them betray you is possibly the worst thing that could happen at that point—and so Nikki’s character was easy to relate with.
The book does an absolutely brilliant job of being a platform for educating the reader—which is why I called it rare in the first place. Pax is a character I know for a fact that readers across the board will love. His struggles and the challenges he faced as a disabled person will be a good start for readers to get a glimpse of what life is like for different people in different situations. That being said, however, it would be unfair on my part to only define Pax as a character on a wheelchair. He was one of the main reasons Nikki took control over her life and strived to move forward. His happy spirit and constant positivity was definitely touching, and his ability to firmly back what he believed in was a refreshing change from some boys that we see in YA. This boy was neither afraid of emotions, nor was he any sort of a childish brat. He was maybe a bit too mature for a 17 year old, but it didn’t bother me too much considering he was in a situation that not all 17 year old boys are in.
All this being said, however, I do have a couple of issues with the book. For starters, insta-love. I don’t like it under any situation, and I did not like it here. A romance within the first 20% of the book? No, sir. It was too fast for my comfort, and I much rather preferred Pax and Nikki to have been friends, because they both really needed some. Secondly, I somehow did not particularly enjoy the fact that Pax helped Nikki greatly; encouraging her, being a shoulder, being a damn good friend. Nikki, on the other hand, came of as very very obsessed with her own problems. This kind of a relationship seemed very unhealthy, and I wouldn’t encourage anything like this ever. Any relationship, no matter what, has to be a two-way street, and that seemed to be lacking here.
I have no qualms at all about Karole Cozzo’s writing though, because it flowed beautifully. I loved reading the laid back, easy writing prose and more than anything, I loved seeing how Nikki grew as a person and as a young adult into someone I would love to be friends with. How To Keep Rolling After A Fall is an inspiring story and covers so wide an array of subjects, that it is genuinely impressive. Family, forgiveness, friendship and being given a second chance are just some of the themes the book touches on, and it is a definite recommendation.
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KAROLE COZZO is a school psychologist by day, a wife and mother of two by night, and a writer of YA romance in the wee hours of the morning. She loves camping out at Starbucks, breakfast cereal at all hours, and watching every movie made from her favorite YA books. How to Say I Love You Out Loud is her debut novel.