Title: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall
Author: Karole Cozzo
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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. 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 in her 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.
Holy cow this book definitely deserves its 5-Owl review because it completely threw me for a loop in the most unexpected ways. Because (1) I'm new to the author and (2) it is published by Swoon Reads, I went in thinking I was going to get a fluffy romance filled with characters wearing rose-colored glasses. Boy was I wrong! This book touches on issues that affect the young, old, and everything in between.
I also cried a little at one point in the story (I'm not afraid to admit) over something that involves the love interest, Pax. I love him so much and I still hold out hope that men like him exist in the world. Pax is the strongest character - emotional wise - including more emotionally intelligent than the main character's parents. It really bothered me to see how they acted towards their daughter after her mistake and I'm dying to discuss with others who have read it.
Even though Nikki is on the verge of turning 18, she seems much older and I really do think it's because of the severity of her mistake and the aftermath that follows. She's battling with guilt and shame and can't even stand to look at her own reflection in the mirror. It reminds me of something I read this week that said "if someone doesn't want me, it is not the end of the world but if I do not want me, the world is nothing but endings." It completely rings true for this main character which was all the more fulfilling to watch her growth from self-deprecating to moving forward without dragging the past with her. And of course, Pax is a huge reason for that.
The author is a great storyteller. I can't gush about this book enough and I truly feel that young adults across the world need to read this book, if only to open their eyes to the importance of exercising compassion towards fellow human beings - especially in high school where tensions are so high and kids are misguided. Another thing I liked was how the author showed us the hardships that someone with a disability goes through and it reminded me how easy it is to take for granted the positive things in our lives.
Please do yourself a favor and pick this one up when it comes out next week! Bravo Karole Cozzo and Swoon Reads for putting out this (perfectly) titled book out in the world.