Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA, Teen Fiction
“What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday February 12th, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death-and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.”
My very first thought upon reading the ending…….”Wait…..what just happened???”
My second thought was, I hated it. Hated the book, hated Sam, hated the ending and hated how many emotions this one book made me feel. It was glorious. Bravo Miss Oliver, bravo. This is the first contemporary book that I have both loved and hated.
There were so many times I would go to Barnes and Noble and circle this book like a vulture, waiting for the right time to strike. If the cover alone isn’t what drew me in it was certainly the idea of reliving your last day seven times. I just had to read it. It’s remarkable that Oliver can plot the same day seven times and make each retelling engaging. It’s also a testimony to the way our everyday behaviors and choices can impact others. We don’t always think about it and sometimes we just don’t think at all.
Sam is one of the Queen Bees at her high school. She is loved yet hated by her fellow classmates. Falling in line behind Lindsay, the head of the pack Sam, Elody and Alley are on top of their world. Sam and her clique have placed themselves so high on a pedestal that they can’t (or rather refuse to) see that their actions have any consequence to them. One student in particular receives the worst of their torment. Her name is Juliet. Juliet doesn’t know it but she’s one of the biggest reasons Sam begins to change.
Days one through four Sam takes her time coming to terms with what has happened to her and that she is waking up to Cupid Day all over again. It wasn’t until the fifth time Sam relives Cupid Day that I began to have real hope for her.
Finally she begins to see a little bit more clearly. Realizing that the fun her and her friends poke at others is more harmful than she knew. She stops taking everything for granted and begins to appreciate all the little things around her. The silly little quirks her kid sister displays, the hilarious banter that randomly starts up between her best friends, the childhood friend who has always had a secret crush on her. His name is Kent. He is a character who really inspired Sam to be different. To be more of who she wanted to be, rather than how she wanted to look.
Maybe the biggest reason that Sam frustrated me so much was because she is such a realistic character. In books we expect the main character to be strong, confident, and ready to jump into the action. What we don’t expect is for them to freeze up, standing like a deer caught in the head lights. I literally screamed at Sam to “do something!” and scared my poor cat right off my lap. Sam is, in every way, just a carefree teenage girl stuck in a bad situation. Had something like that happened to me when I was a senior in high school there’s a good chance I would have acted exactly like Sam did. Even now! I like to think that I have the courage or instinct to do what she does in the end, but can I say that for certain? No. That’s what was so brilliant about this book. It makes the gears in your mind begin to turn. Gears you didn’t realize were even there.
This book was a huge testimony to those who are bullied in school, and even to those who do the bullying. There’s always a reason. In no way does that justify the act, but it opens up your eyes. Everyone goes through hard times they don’t know how to deal with. It’s not always as black and white as it seems. Sadly some people tend to act out as a result of it.
One last thing I loved about this book was the real friendship between the four girls. It was real and it was beautiful. Misplaced as their intentions may have been they truly cared for one another. They were protective and understanding.
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone. It’s a frustrating and funny read. Part of the pleasure is in the outrage it brings. The worst books are the ones you can’t connect to. This does not fall into that category. Try it out, laugh, yell and most of all think. Don’t write it off as soon as you finish it. Think about it. This is a book that takes sinking in to really be appreciated. And believe me, it deserves appreciation.
If you do pick it up or have already read it, let me know in the comments down below what you thought 🙂