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.
With the bestest of friends, oodles of popularity and one of the cutest boys in school as her boyfriend, Sam Kingston has it all. Until all of that is ripped away in a flash of pain and crunching metal. Sam wakes up the next day, only to realize she has to live that same fateful day over and over. Maybe next time, she’ll be able to set things right. Told over a period of seven repeated days, Lauren Oliver‘s Before I Fall (Harper) is a thought-provoking glimpse into the ripple effect of the choices we make and a love letter to life’s little pleasures.
Before I Fall is one of the few books I have thoroughly enjoyed in which I hated the main character. Sam is one of those girls who makes high-school miserable for all the rest of us lower beings. She’s so afraid to lose her status that she’s willing to stomp on those around her. And yet I couldn’t help rooting for her. That’s what makes her such an amazingly written character! Kudos to Oliver for making a largely unlikable character likable.
As Sam lives that last day over and over she starts to see how her choices affect others and she consciously sets out to right some of the wrongs she’s caused. She doesn’t always make good choices with her last days—in fact some choices are deplorable—but the process of witnessing Sam evolve is fascinating. I would have thought reading the same day again and again would be repetitive, but every day presents new facets and insights, new opportunities.
My only criticism is that each day starts with Sam speaking directly to the reader, asking them to reflect on themselves, a device I could have done without. The book is thought-provoking enough, so I found these sections to be more pedantic than anything else.
Before I Fall is a wonderfully raw and affecting read that pokes you where it hurts and invites you to stop and reevaluate. With believable voices and a memorable message, Before I Fall will linger with readers long after the last page.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5 hearts)