40 pages 1 hour read

Jordan Sonnenblick

Falling Over Sideways

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2016

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Symbols & Motifs


The motifs of falling and catching appear throughout the narrative, starting with its title: Everything changes for Claire “when my father—and my life—tilted and slumped over sideways” (2).


Sometimes the falling is quite negative and jarring. Claire’s father literally slumps over when he has a stroke. Claire and Matthew stumble in their daily activities as they readjust their lives after this traumatic event. Claire often wants to “catch a break” from the realities of life, even though she initially doesn’t put in as much effort as Matthew or her mom.


But the motif can also be cast a positive—as when a protector figure catches the falling person. Claire remembers a game she used to play with her father where he’d say, “No, I catching you!” (48). With her father suffering from his stroke, Claire wishes to be there to catch her father while also lamenting that he can no longer “catch” her. By the end of the novel, Sonnenblick underscores that part of growing up is becoming a protector of those who were there to catch you when you were small.