Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (UK) | HarperCollins (US)
PublicationDate: 4 Mar 2010
Paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review Copy
Reviewed by: Laura
BACK COVER SUMMARY:
They say that when you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me Sam Kingston is dead. Except she isn’t. On a rainy February night, eighteen-year-old Sam is killed in a horrific car crash. But then the impossible happens: she wakes up in her own bed, on the morning of the day that she died. Forced to live over and over the last day of her life the drive to school, skipping class, the fateful party she desperately struggles to alter the outcome, but every morning she wakes up on the day of the crash. This is a story of a girl who dies young, but in the process learns how to live. And who falls in love… a little too late.
When I first started reading ‘Before I Fall‘ it reminded me a little bit of a cross between the films ‘Groundhog Day & ‘Mean Girls’.
At the beginning, I didn’t like Sam very much at all. She was one of those girls at school who was more concerned about appearances than substance, and her friends were equally as shallow. They were more obsessed with how many red roses they would get on Cupid’s Day, as a show of their popularity, than the true meaning of friendship.
It seemed somewhat fateful that after a party and one episode of drink driving too many, that Sam’s life ended in a horrific car crash.
Then, as the pages began to turn, I realised that this was the point. I wasn’t supposed to like Sam at first. As she began to relive each day, she also began to grow as a person. And with each new day, Sam begins to realise that her life is not as good as she thought it was.
At first her choices are selfish and evolve around her desperation & frustration as she tries to alter its inevitable course. But, each day brings with it a new discovery and soon Sam’s choices become more about everyone else, than herself.
Surprisingly, despite Sam living the same day seven times, the book doesn’t get repetitive at all. Each time she makes different decisions that twist the story in new & at times quite unexpected directions. As the book develops and Sam begins to grow, the more I began to see her as misguided and began to like her. So that when the seventh and final day arrives, I turned each page with anticipation, wondering how she was going to get the guy, save herself and avoid some of the less than pleasant events.
When the novel reaches its crescendo your desperation mirrors Sam’s. The day whizzes by and despite having lived it with her six times before you have no idea how it’s going to conclude. The ending of the book is beautiful and eloquently written. I won’t spoil it for you, but be warned there’s a good chance that tissues will be required.
‘Before I Fall‘ is a really well written and moving book. It’s a poignant tale of how life can end all too soon and about understanding the impact of your behaviour on others. It’s one of those books that when you turn the final page you have to sit back and let it all sink in. My one criticism would be as I didn’t like Sam at first, it does take a little while to get into, but persevere as it is worth the read.
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