Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Describe it in three words: Thought-provoking – Emotional – Frustrating
First impression: I love books about the afterlife, I’m sold
Last impression: Holy shit NOOO
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.
Review: I haven’t had as many “holy shit that was an amazing book” books in a while. This book had me staying up late reading (which is something I haven’t been compelled to do in a long time either). And even after I decided to go to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about the book. It was truly the definition of a pageturner. I wanted to get all of that out of the way first. The plot of this book is that a popular teenager, Samantha, is killed in a car accident while driving with her friends. She wasn’t a nice girl to others in high school, which is pretty standard of “popular” girls nowadays. The book starts with her last day of life and outlines everything that happened leading up to the accident. When she inevitably dies, she wakes up in the next chapter and thinks the whole thing was a bad dream. Of course it wasn’t…she is actually dead and reliving the day over and over again, like Groundhog Day. She goes through the typical stages: disbelief, frustration, sadness, etc. Oliver does not try to make Sam a likeable character (at first). She’s a mean girl. Her friends are mean girls. As the book goes on, she tries to make amends for everything and live each day the best she can. She realizes what she needs to do in order to pass on to the afterlife. I don’t want to give too much away, but this book really had me thinking. What would I do if I knew I only had “one day” to relive a couple of times? Sam spent one whole day with her sister and being kind to her family, which I thought was sweet. Teenagers can be so bitchy and ungrateful; I was glad she took a day to spend some time with them. This book shows how every decision, no matter how small, can completely impact your day/life. She ended up living this day seven times by the end of the book. Each day, she changed a few things and tried to make everything better – and each day, there was a (sometimes very) different outcome. I won’t lie; this was a very sad book. I would stay up for hours staring at the ceiling and thinking about the afterlife. What happens when we die? When am I going to die? It was really creepy. I had a couple existential crises while reading it. Luckily I finished the book in two sittings..I don’t think I could have handled pondering the meaning of life for one more night. Overall, this book exceeded my expectations. I knew from the start that it was going to mean something to me and impact how I viewed life, death, and the lives of other people. The ending though – ugh. As always, my reviews are pretty spoiler-free, so I won’t give away too much. I think the ending was fitting for the book and the way it was written, but I kept hoping and hoping it would be different. It was pretty frustrating, but I don’t think it took away from the book at all. It’s hard to put to words how this book made me feel, but it is worth reading for people of all ages. Whether you were the mean girl in high school, or the geek, or the weird person with no friends at all… this book touches on all of it.