Learning to Fall

Twelve-year-old Daphne reconciles with her father, who left her stranded three years ago, and learns forgiveness one fall at a time in this heartwarming debut. For fans of The ​First Rule of Punk.

A Junior Library Guild Selection, Common Sense Media Selection for Families, and CALIBA Golden Poppy Award Finalist; nominated for the Maine Student Book Award


Daphne doesn’t want to be stuck in Oakland with her dad. She wants to get on the first plane to Prague, where her mom is shooting a movie.

Armed with her grandparents’ phone number and strict instructions from her mom to call them if her dad starts drinking again, Daphne has no problem being cold to him. She’s barely talked to him in three years, after all. But there’s one thing Daphne can’t keep herself from doing: joining her dad and her new friend Arlo at a weekly skate session.

When her dad promises to teach her how to ollie and she lands the trick, Daphne starts to believe in him again. He starts to show up for her, and Daphne learns things are not as black and white with her dad as she used to think. The way Daphne’s dad tells it, skating is all about accepting failure and moving on. But can Daphne really let go of her dad’s past mistakes? Either way, she learns life is a lot like skating: it’s all about getting back up after you fall.


“An authentic and hopeful look at a young girl with a passion for skateboarding who is struggling to understand and forgive an alcoholic parent with the support of family and friends.”

–School Library Journal

“Author Sally Engelfried’s empathetic tale of recovery, reconciliation, and mad skills finds inspiration in skater culture as an angry tween reconnects with her estranged dad.”

–Common Sense Media

“Most stories about alcohol addiction don’t always focus on the complexities of recovery and forgiveness like Engelfried does, and the theme of family resonates.”


“Engelfried performs quite a trick mixing joy, struggle, and healing in this relatable, wonderful book. Grab your pads and helmet, and get ready to drop in to a touching and inspiring read.”

—Lisa Moore Ramée, author of A Good Kind of Trouble and Something to Say

“Learning to Fall is something rare and captivating: equal parts family story, coming of age novel, and sports book. Readers’ hearts will dip and soar as Daphne learns not only how to ollie and kickflip, but also who she is and all she’s capable of being.”

—Tricia Springstubb, author of The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe