Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins
Samantha is one of the most popular girls in her high school. She is gorgeous, dating the hottest guy in her class, and she and her group of girlfriends can get away with just about anything. Until Friday, February 12, a day that should have been just another regular day in Sam’s perfect life, but instead turns out to be her last day on earth. But somehow, she wakes up after that horrible accident and gets the opportunity to live that day over again. She has a second chance, a chance to figure out how and why she died, and more importantly, come to an understanding of what really matters in this life she’s desperate to get back.
Before I Fall is an incredibly creative concept for a novel. Samantha lives out her last day alive not once, not twice, but seven times. And each time, she gets closer to the truth of what happened to her and why, and closer to realizing what the purpose of her second chance actually is. I thought going into the novel that reading about the same events over and over would get boring, but it really doesn’t. While the basics of each day are the same, Samantha learns so much each time that there are significant differences in each part of the book, making the story extremely compelling and compulsively readable. I honestly could not put this book down.
What’s interesting about this book is how unlikable Samantha is as a character, yet how much the reader can’t help but like her. She and her friends are truly the “mean girls” of their high school – the best parts of their day are when they have the opportunity to make someone else’s life miserable. Yet my heart broke for Samantha as she began to realize what she and her friends were really like, as she lived that last day over and over again, and she started to have remorse for many of her actions. She was so determined to make things right, to fix what she had broken, and it was heartbreaking to watch as she discovered that she simply wasn’t able to make everything better. For so many aspects of her life, it was just too late.
I was surprised by how much happened in this book, given that it was essentially the same events playing out seven times in a row. Samantha made real growth as a character throughout the book, and the shattering conclusion left me breathless. Before I Fall is a fantastic novel for teens, one I can’t help but highly recommend.