Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Read By: Sarah Drew
Length: 12 hours and 25 minutes
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.
The start of this book had me really pissed off. I hated how it was portrayed that bullying was okay. That it was just an acceptable part of growing up, and that there was nothing wrong with being bullied. And I quote…
“She wasn’t all that fat, and she lost it, and then became friends with Lindsey, and we laughed about it together at a party.”
No. Nein. Non. No in every freaking language! Just so much no. However, unfortunately I do have to admit that it was pretty spot on accurate, which totally effing sucks. The portrayal of being a teenager was spot on. The main character, Sam, and her friends held popularity, boys, being pretty, looking cute, hooking up, their virgin status, and getting roses on Valentine’s Day to the highest degree of importance. As a teenager, those are the things that are important. Teenagers aren’t looking at the bigger picture, they’re in the moment, living one day at a time (see what I did there – *smirk*), and not worrying about how those things compare to others who are dealing with far worse things.
Now let’s focus on Sam. As a character, truly hated her at the beginning. She was a mean girl, I hated how she acted, I hated what she cared about, and I hated her attitude. She was everything I hated when I was in high school, coming alive again to piss me off all over again. As she started reliving her death day, she slowly (like I’m talking straight up snails pace) progressed and got better, but I still never really enjoyed her as an overall character. I do have to admit that this book had some intense character development though.
Reliving the day of her death made Sam realize things that her mean girl mind never would have comprehended. She began to see how her decisions impacted others and outcomes, and I found that to be such a key lesson. This is a book about regrets. It’s about realizing that a lot times you have absolutely no idea what other people are dealing with, or have dealt with in their lives. It’s about recognizing that when you only concern yourself with yourself, you don’t consider how your actions, no matter how small they may seem, can impact others. The lessons of this book are extraordinary, and one of the biggest reasons why I rated this book the way that I did.
The. Ending. Of. This. Book. Destroyed. Me.
It’s true, I don’t want to talk about it, but I will. Though I never fully connected with Sam as a character, the person that she was by the end of this book was 1,000% better than who she was at the start. I recognize how much she grew as a person, and I saw how things could have been for her, and, ugh. Just ugh. I’m heartbroken for her and the half-life that she lived, and I was heartbroken for many other characters in the book as well, though I don’t want to give anything away so I’m saying no more.
One thing that might turn people off about this book is the repetition. Yes, this really is about one girl reliving the same day seven times in a row. There is no way to get around at least a little bit of repetition, so prepare yourself. It was way worse in the beginning of the book, but got better as Sam started to grow as a person and change the decisions she was making to modify the outcomes of the day.
How did you feel about Sam as a character?