Also by this author: Delirium, Vanishing Girls
Published by Harper on October 25, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today's foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person's life can affect so many others.
For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.
However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.
There’s something about winter and cold weather that makes me want to just read all day long. Also, Pinterest. This past weekend all I basically did was read and pin things. Winter is wonderful that way, you know?
Anyways, I just finished the book Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I’ve already reviewed one of her books, Delirium, and again I am struck by how beautifully she writes. Overall, I give this book 4 stars.
If you could choose which day would be the last day of your life, which would it be? The day you graduated high school? College, perhaps? The day you got married? The day you had your first child?
The thing about life, though, is that you don’t get to choose. You don’t really ever know when something will be your last: your last morning. Your last laugh. Your last kiss. Your last goodbye. Your last day. These are unknown and, therefore, under-appreciated. People subconsciously assume that nothing is going to happen to them, that they’re invincible. Truth is, they’re not. You’re not. And this book brings that message to life.
Sam Kingston is a popular 17-year-old senior. She skips classes, she goes to parties, she has a boyfriend (…Basically she is the opposite of me in my high school days, but I’m a-okay with that). But all that changes when, on the way home from a party on Friday, February the 12th, she and her friends get in a car crash and she dies. But then, she wakes up…on Friday, February the 12th and lives through this day again. And again. And again. She lives through this day a total of seven times.
I didn’t start this book unbiased, as my little sister had tried to read it in the past. I remember her simply telling me, “It’s all about sex,” and that’s why she didn’t read on. Maybe it’s just my English-major/I’ve-read-so-many-books-I’m-probably-a-little-desensitized mind working, but I don’t think this is fair. Sam’s boyfriend is the stereotypical high school pig who only thinks about sex. How many boys actually exist that are like this, I don’t know, but that’s the case in this book. The pressure from him combined with the stigma of being a virgin (also, not sure if this really exists in high school) make her want to just “get it over with.” After her first death, though, this is far from her mind and you’re really able to see how her mind progresses from what she thought was important to what really is important.
Also, like the popular high school group of girls, they make fun of others around them. What’s interesting about this story, though, is that I feel as if it questions this “bully-victim relationship.” In a typical story like this, the girl realizes that her friends are not-very-nice people and she realizes that she’s better than that and she becomes best friends with the same people that they spent years harassing. That’s not the case in this story and it’s definitely not the case in real life. Without giving away any crucial details, I just wanted to mention a really beautiful point in the story: It’s on the seventh day and she’s just thinking about her group of friends. She names three things that she loves about each of her best friends – Lindsay, Elody, and Ally. This is after Sam has realized the awful things that they’ve done over the years. She still loves them and she still finds beauty in them, and I find beauty in that. It’s just an interesting and unique perspective to find the “bullies” not cast down as the awful, the cruel, and the unforgivable.
So, the negatives: (1) There is talk about sex, though none actually occurs. There is some language, talk of drugs and drinking. So, basically, this is not a book for your middle-schooler. If it was a movie, it would be PG-13, nothing worse than that. (2) I sometimes felt like there was a disconnect between Sam’s thoughts and her voice. Lauren Oliver is a beautiful writer. She knows how to express things with vivid imagery and breathtaking diction, and that is expressed through the though processes of Sam Kingston. But…this book is written in the first person. So, Lauren Oliver’s beautiful and vivid writing is taken as Sam’s thoughts. And, at least in the beginning, there is a major disconnect between Sam’s beautifully-written thought processes and the dialogue that she actually said. For example, in the beginning, her favorite word seems to be the eloquently-stated “Obv.” Despite this, I do think her character develops throughout the story where the disconnect didn’t seem as present at the end. But in the beginning, it’s there and it did kind of annoy me at times.
But, overall, this is a wonderful book that sucked me right in. I read the almost 500 pg. book in three days – a short time for a full-time student and part-time library worker. It’s a good read. It’s a fast read. It’s a read with a beautiful message. I say, read it.
Let me leave you with my favorite quote:
Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today.
And the truth is, you never really know.
P.S. Lauren Oliver favorited my tweet about my feelings after I finished the book last night, so that’s pretty cool. #nbd #claimtofame