40 pages 1 hour read

Jordan Sonnenblick

Falling Over Sideways

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2016

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Character Analysis

Claire Goldsmith

Claire is a 13-year-old middle school student who feels her life is unlucky because she was born on Friday 13th. She feels like her parents always compare her to her “perfect” older brother, Matthew. And though Claire has friends, including Alanna, Katherine, and Roshni, she suffers from frenemies at school that include Ryder, her one-time best friend, and Regina Chavez, a girl who calls her Starbuck and eats all her Skittles.


Though Claire wants eighth grade to be a year of change, she doesn’t anticipate just how much change the year will bring. When her father has a stroke, Claire’s life changes in an instant. Claire’s father survives, but his recovery is slow. Claire’s daily routines, like practicing for dance in the living room, having friends over, and delighting in her father’s jokes, end. Claire tries hard to empathize with her father and family, but she also finds herself wishing that things would go back to normal. Claire is increasingly stressed by having to juggle school and home life—especially when she decides not to tell anyone in her dance school about her father’s condition.


Claire finally receives a wake-up call from well-meaning people like her dance instructor Miss Laura and her brother.