Friday, May 14, 2010

REVIEW: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

“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 losing.”

Before I Fall was such an amazing book. I read it awhile back and then it's taken me some time to collect my thoughts about the book. It's just very different than I was expecting. And I'm even more suprised by Before I Fall because it's a debut novel and it's so good it nearly knocked me on my ass while I read it.

I love the structure of story, with the day - February 12 - being relived, Groundhog-style over the course of a week. But Oliver made each day different enough that the same material isn't being dredged up seven different ways. Each day seems to build a little more onto the last and we're left with this complex story with layers and layers of deeper characterisation and meaning. And it was really sad and beautiful and honest and heart-breaking all at once.

I think something has to be said about the characters. Sam and her friends are not very nice and it took me awhile to warm to Sam as a main character. Her group of friends are very bitchy and queen-bee-like in their high school. Everything seems to come to them naturally and more than occasionally they're just not very nice. And those actions and consequences are really what's being dealt with in Before I Fall. And what I loved about these characters is that they're aren't perfect. By the end, everything isn't perfectly cleared up and resolved. Instead, we have this clearer image of these girls who treat some people badly, but they're loyal to each other, like family. And Sam's character really develops as well, as she figures out what's important to her and what things she's willing to change in order to make things right. With her friends, her family and in her romantic life.

It's a really wonderful story and it comes highly recommended!


  1. I can see why this novel would be heart-breaking. It sounds like quite a good read. I can imagine it could have been a bit predictable in anyone else's hands, but it sounds like the author was able to pull it off so well. Thank you for your great review!

  2. This is next on my list.

    I just finished Elizabeth's Berg "Pull of the Moon."

    I couldn't put it down...

    Came here via Eclectic's bloggiversary shout out to you.

    Pleasure to meet you.


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