With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today's foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman's If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person's life can affect so many others.
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.
Named to numerous state reading lists, this novel was also recognized as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Daily Beast, NPR, and Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by Fox 2000 Pictures.
Supports the Common Core State Standards.
Topics: Death, Bullying, Second Chances, Connecticut, Car Crashes, First Person Narration, Family, Friendship, Love, Realistic, High School, Magical Realism, Tragic, and Debut
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In many ways, it's a simple story about the impact of bullying and the devastating effect that seemingly random acts can have on people's lives. Lauren Oliver is a good writer and she tells this story well. Her finger was absolutely on the pulse of teenage life and I commend her for that. It felt very authentic to me....(and my 33 year old world view!)
I listened to the audio version which was performed with great drama and intensity. I spent a lot of time totally hating the main characters, but by the end, I was completely hooked and wanted to know how it would all end.
This would be a fantastic book to discuss with a teenage book group.more
The storyline is already obvious in the blurb that's given. Samantha "Sam" Kingston is reliving the last day of her life, over and over and over. She has 3 best friends and they are super popular, super snotty, and all around, the "mean girls" that everyone wants to be friends with. Personally, they all drove me nuts. I found them to be vindictive and cruel and seriously wanted to know what was up with their parents that they constantly had booze, skipped classes, and were never home. (Yes, I'm a mom and a school principal - this frustrated the heck out of me)
As Sam relives her last day, she reflects on what makes a person "good," and tries to make things right. The problem is, though, that you can't go from being the senior high school bully to everyone's best friend overnight.
It's high school drama at it's best and gives you pause to wonder what you would change if this were the last day of your life... Perhaps that would lead to a good discussion among friends?more
Seriously, I spent the first half of the book wanting to do nothing so much as punch Sam and her friends in their made-up faces. Ugh. It was awful. Basically, most of this book reminded me just how much I hated high school. I'm so glad I'm through with that part of my life, and I would not go through it again, even if I could take all the knowledge I have now with me. People are so cruel and all of the emphasis put on popularity, on being this cookie cutter person who dates the right people and goes to the right parties; it's all bullshit.
What's important to know, though, is that even during the many, many pages where I wanted to punch pretty much everyone in the face, I still really enjoyed reading Before I Fall. The writing is completely captivating. Lauren Oliver very much captures Sam's voice, and manages to let Sam's character grow at a very natural pace.
Obviously, this plot is like Groundhog Day mashed up with Mean Girls. Much like the former film manages not to be boring, even though he's living the same day over and over again, Oliver's book never dragged. Even thought the events that transpired as Sam lived the same date over and over again remained pretty consistent, the smallest changes made huge differences or no difference at all. I really loved the emphasis placed on how much and how little can change in just a single day. Really makes a girl think about carpe-ing that diem.
My very favorite part of the novel, other than the really awesome concept and the writing, is Kent. He is just the cutest, so nerdy and himself. Were he not so brave, he could pretend and be as popular as anyone, but instead he embraces his weirdness, and I just love that about him. I wish I'd had a guy like him in high school, but I also know that I would have been too afraid of venturing out of the mainstream that I totally wasn't in anyway to go for it. That's the message I want to leave this post with: life's too short to pass up an amazing, cute, nerdy guy...now I just have to find one (that's not fictional).
As for the ending, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it just now. Honestly, I'm not sure what happened entirely, but I definitely want to bawl my eyes out (figuratively, because literally would be really gross).more