Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
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 is an evasive and intriguing debut novel that has a very different and cryptic concept of after-death. But instead of being unrealistic or impossible to believe, Oliver creates a palpable environment as well as an assuring character whose growth is evident as she learns many lessons and ultimately understands what her actions can become.
With sharp insights and extensive tangibility, Oliver's novel is a raw and harsh look at the startlingly brutal hierarchy of high school and the vicious bullying and injudicious cruelty that is present in today's high school communities. Behind Sam's actions--may it be present or past--readers are subtly taught a valuable lesson that pertains both to Sam's situation, and in real life. The interlocking of both fantasy and reality here is balanced and although everything is exaggerated a little bit, it still provides that same real-life grit that many people are unaware of today.
Every time Sam wakes up, each day becomes more and more important and Oliver carefully slips a sense of urgency that grows each time Sam re-lives her last day. And at first, Sam makes only little changes and differences in her last day but as she starts to understand that her treatment and perception of people was wrong, she starts to not only become a better person, but become a better, more complex character.
Through Before I Fall, Oliver exposes the raw and horrible truths about high school. Before I Fall is a debut that delves deeper than usual into the psyche of a high school teenager and is a microscope to the underlying cruelties that each person has within them. A =)
The Bottom Line: Raw + Real = Before I Fall
My reaction/enjoyment: 7/10
Total Score: 90/100 (A)