This one was sitting in my pile waiting to be read for a few months. It looked interestingfallingoversideways with the saxophone on the cover, but other than that I had no idea what it was about. It only took a few pages to realize the journey I would be a part of for several hours. It wasn’t a journey I was prepared to take.

You see, this book is about a father who has a stroke and the hardships and turmoil it causes for his wife, son, and daughter, Claire. I had a close relative who went through this a year ago so I was well aware of a stroke patient’s slow come back to living a normal life. Despite not wanting to be dragged through this family’s ordeal, I continued reading because of Claire’s voice.

She’s the eighth grade narrator of the story and her depiction of life as a dancer, band member, and her last year of middle school, made this story even more realistic. Yes, the world of middle school couldn’t have been depicted any better. One would think this might be a YA book (lower YA?), but I’ll peg it as upper MG. The language is bleeped out in creative ways (although you know what they’re saying), and many of the scenes might be best for 6th to 9th graders.

Overall, FALLING OVER SIDEWAYS is a sad, honest, and yes, a humorous story about one’s family struggle to get through an unexpected event.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon) It’s not easy being Claire. (Really.)

Claire’s life is a joke . . . but she’s not laughing. While her friends seem to be leaping forward, she’s dancing in the same place. The mean girls at school are living up to their mean name, and there’s a boy, Ryder, who’s just as bad, if not worse. And at home, nobody’s really listening to her — if anything, they seem to be more in on the joke than she is.

Then into all of this (not-very-funny-to-Claire) comedy comes something intense and tragic — while her dad is talking to her at the kitchen table, he falls over with a medical emergency. Suddenly the joke has become very serious — and the only way Claire, her family, and her friends are going to get through it is if they can find a way to make it funny again.


  1. Tragedy can often bring a family closer as so expertly revealed here.
  2. The author did his research on the treatment and care of a stroke patient. It’s vividly described and accurate.
  3. Older brother Matthew would make an interesting novel subject. He’s the perfect kid who reveals a few chinks in his armor along the way. Great writing to make the secondary characters just as memorable.
  4. A strong family is the centerpiece. Too many books these days have the exact opposite.
  5. The ending is what I wanted and the author delivered. Thank you!

FAVORITE LINES: One thing that keeps me up at night is the fear that the boys in my grade will never mature. Seriously, sometimes I look around my class, at Ryder making disgusting faces at me, or at the two random boys in front of me attempting to burp the Pledge of Allegiance, or at all the other guys hard at work, diligently drawing their private parts in the margins of each other’s homework papers, and I shudder. What if video games, repeated brain injuries from sports, and genetically modified foods have destroyed their higher mental functions?

AUTHOR QUOTE: (from Jordan’s website) My favorite school subject was always English, although I was pretty good at everything except sitting still and being quiet. I’m pretty sure my teachers didn’t know what to make of me, because I got straight A’s, but got in trouble constantly. This didn’t stop until I was in my first semester at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. The girl of my adolescent dreams was in my freshman English class, and one day when I was making jokes nonstop, she turned to me and hissed, “Why are you so immature?”

At that moment, I instantly became a model citizen.


It’s almost time for the six finalists to be named for this year’s CYBIL’s Middle grade fiction category. The announcement is coming on January 1st. The finalists are great representatives for what makes MG books so good. I’ll be helping select the overall winner  to be revealed on February 14th.


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.Click on the comments link below.



About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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5 Responses to FALLING OVER SIDEWAYS (A CYBIL’s nominee)

  1. danielle hammelef says:

    Now I really want to read this book–I just previewed on Amazon. Great voice! Will you post about the finalists and winners? Please share your experiences in the voting process.

    • Finalists are announced this Sunday at cybils.com. I received the list for the MG fiction finalists a week ago and will spend January reading them. Later in the month I’ll meet in a chat room with the other judges and we’ll hash out a winner. February 14th the winners will be announced. I’ll reveal more in future posts.

  2. Well, you have done it again — added to my toppling TBR list with a great review. Thanks, Greg, for the post. Happy New Year to you.

  3. Andrea says:

    I really enjoyed this one! Tugs at the heart.

    Looking forward to finding out which are Cybils finalists!

  4. tythesloth says:

    This looks really good! I’m gonna go find this at the library now. 🙂

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