Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Pub: Harpter Teen; 2010
The Short of It
Realizing what matters most in life.
The Long of It
Sam and her best friends, Allie, Elody, and Lindsay feel no pain. As upperclassman, they run in the most popular circle in their clichéd Connecticut high school. Cupid Day, one of the most favored school day of the year by their group, will be even more special for Sam than all previous years. This Cupid Day, Sam plans on losing her v-card to her gorgeous boyfriend, Rob. Unfortunately Sam doesn’t realize when she woke up that day that she would die. (Un)Fortunately for her, she DOES realize that the next day and the next and the next as Sam relives the last day of her life over and over again.
The Thoughts about It
I stayed away from this book for sometime because I didn’t think I’d dig it. Groundhog Day is one of my all time favorite movies and I just didn’t know if I could stomach reading a book with the same plot. I mean, who am I kidding? It was fun and quirky watching Bill Murrary relive his day over again, but how much enjoyment could possibly be had RE-READING someone’s day over again.
*le sigh* I was wrong. Oliver did an a-Mayzing job recreating Sam’s day. As in – uh, hello, it never got boring and I never wanted to put the book down because I was experiencing déjà. I’d also like to point out that one of the reasons I stayed away is because most people dogged on the narrator, Sam. Essentially claiming she truly was a self-centered bitch and didn’t ever really get that much likable as the story progressed. I have to stop right here though, and raise a talk to the hand signal. Are you kidding me? How could someone not think that Sam-as-a-Character wasn’t brilliant? What is up with YA authors hitting the nail head on teen behavior?
So, Sam is the quintessential beyotch. She’s crude and selfish and pushy and doesn’t really care who she hurts. And when I mean she doesn’t care…she TRULY DOESN’T CARE. It just doesn’t cross her mind the CONSEQUENCES of her actions. None of her friends do. Um, hello? Of course she’s not likable. I don’t know many “popular” girls in high school that were in real life. But here’s the thing, Oliver does a swell job showing her humanity as a character as much as her faults. ‘Cuz before dying Sam just sincerely doesn’t get it. And then after living one more day she still doesn’t get it completely.
There was so much freakin’ substance in this novel. Sam’s progression is slow and sometimes hysterical. There are illuminations of minor characters that I was thrilled about (especially in their unexpectedness). And – and – AND there’s this scene where this one girl is totally getting bullied by the popular kids, almost like the quintessential after school special scene right? And it’s so horrific and filled with syrupy turmoil that it reminded me TOTALLY of Carrie by Stephen King. That scene where Carrie is covered in pig’s blood at her prom? Yeah, like that. Except, maybe less bloody. But equally as HORRIFIC. And that scene happens again and again.
Is Sam a redeemable character? I think that’s what the book questions.