Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Book Jacket

What if you had only 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: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High--from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot.  Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance.  Seven chances, in fact.  Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of living.


This book has a Groundhog's Day premise, and for the first third of the book, I just wasn't sold.  Sam is the popular mean girl of high school, and the first couple days she experiences her death were just painful.  She is a horrible girl, really, treating her family, friends, and especially the less popular kids at school, like dirt.

But.  After a the third or so time experiencing her last day, Sam starts to understand and love those same people that she previously took for granted.  Watching her realize that her actions have consequences was fantastic and eye-opening when I think about my own life.  The "innocent" insults she and her friends fling around have repercussions, both small and large.

I was impressed that reliving the same day seven times never got dull.  Sometimes she stays home from school, sometimes she uses her do-over as an excuse to let loose, and sometimes she tries to stop the cycling by doing as much as she can correctly (whether it ends up good or not is another matter).

Before reading Before I Fall, I would never have thought I would sympathize with the stereotypical mean girl.  But Oliver shows the genuine friendships between Sam and her friends, as well as slowly reveals the insecurities that cause them to be mean.  The mysteries surrounding Sam's death (what exactly caused the car crash?  was she the only one who died?) are solved as Sam tries to live in last day in various ways.

It took a while, but I am now completely sold on this book.  I can't get it out of my head, which is a sure sign of a great story.

Four out of five dreams of falling.

Release Date:  March 2010
Reading Level:  Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL OLI

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of Before I Fall:

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