Review: Before I Fall

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—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-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 had ever imagined. –From Goodreads

Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall feels like Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day, as popular girl Samantha Kingston relives the day of her death over and over again. Samantha and her friends are not even remotely likable in the beginning, which is appropriate, since they aren’t supposed to be. As the novel continues, though, Sam begins to better understand herself, her friends, and the people they have bullied. By living out the same day in seven different ways, Sam realizes that life unfolds based on the thousands of decisions we make each day, and it is her choice to make the right ones. This is not to say that she’s a perfect angel by the conclusion, but there is certainly some redemption.

Oliver’s writing is fluid and enjoyable. I’m not entirely sure what girls like Sam are supposed to sound like (thankfully), but this book’s dialogue seemed to fit with all the other stereotypical “popular girl” type material I have encountered. Yet, the plot felt unlike anything I’d ever read. After a few repeats of the same day, I was beginning to wonder if I could make it through all seven. The book was starting to look a little long, but then I kept reading for just a few more pages, and was sucked back in and barely came up for air until I had finished. The self-absorbed, petty, obnoxious behavior can wear on you at the beginning, but it’s worth hanging in there to watch as Sam stumbles around trying to right her wrongs, ultimately growing into a more pleasant person and protagonist.

Readers who enjoy Before I Fall might also like Hate List, which also explores the redemption of an initially unlikable narrator, and Gimme a Call, another book about getting a chance to live life over again.

Quotable Quotes from Before I Fall

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.

But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”

“Here’s one of the things I learned that morning: if you cross a line and nothing happens, the line loses meaning. It’s like that old riddle about a tree falling in a forest, and whether it makes a sound if there’s no one around to hear it.

You keep drawing a line farther and farther away, crossing it every time. That’s how people end up stepping off the edge of the earth. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to bust out of orbit, to spin out to a place where no one can touch you. To lose yourself–to get lost.

Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe some of you already know.

To those people, I can only say: I’m sorry.”

“I’ve never really thought about it before, but it’s a miracle how many kinds of light there are in the world, how many skies: the pale brightness of spring, when it feels like the hole world’s blushing; the lush, bright boldness of a July noon; purple storm skies and a green queasiness just before lightning strikes and crazy multicolored sunsets that look like someone’s acid trip.”

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