40 pages 1 hour read

Jordan Sonnenblick

Falling Over Sideways

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2016

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Perseverance in the Face of Adversity

Many of the characters in Falling Over Sideways attempt to persevere despite adversity, most notably Claire’s father, Mr. Goldsmith.


When Mr. Goldsmith suffers a stroke, he must relearn how to use the right side of his body, and regain lost vocabulary. Given that he’s an author, the verbal issues that stem from his stroke seem especially cruel to Claire:


On the morning of his discharge from the hospital, I kept thinking of [a beautiful sentence from one of his books] over and over, wondering whether he would write anything like that again. Write it? I was wondering whether he’d ever even be able to understand anything like that again (102).


Claire is obviously elated that her father survived his stroke. However, Claire feels like the essence of her father is gone: He used to write, comprehend, laugh, dance, and tell jokes, and now he can barely breathe on his own, let alone walk. Her father has a steep upward climb, which means that Claire and her family also have a steep uphill battle in maintaining a positive environment in the house for his sake (and theirs).


With her father’s failures in physical training and few successes, Claire begins to wonder whether she should be “thankful he was alive in this condition” (167).