Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

HarperCollins, 2010; 470 pages; ISBN  0061726818
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

At first I didn't understand why this book was so long, but once I got past the first 100 pages or so, I realized that you have to go through the process with Sam in order to really understand her path, which takes all of the 470 pages to do so. Sam is a popular, but mean girl, who along with her three best friends, kind of terrorize and rule their school. She finally lands the boyfriend she has been crushing on, but she can be an outright bitch to fellow students and even her own family. One night after a party Sam and her friends get into a car accident and Sam doesn't seem to make it out alive, but when she wakes up she is reliving the same day she died all over again from the beginning. This happens seven times. Each time though, Sam realizes something new. One day she decides to be the bad girl, even hooking up with one of her teachers (who is a total perv), and getting drunk, and being a complete bitch to everyone (even more so than she usually is). Then another day she decides to spend the most time she can with her sister. Finally near the end she realizes the most important things: that people she had been ignoring are actually pretty great, that her friends are flawed, but that she loves them anyways, that she loves her family even if she doesn't always show it, and that her little sister will some day glow like she never will (that part broke my heart).  Most of all Sam has to accept her fate and save someone else for the chance to "move on" in the after life. I really enjoyed the entire book - the writing is excellent, sometimes lyrical, a lot of times very realistic, and more than anything honest and heartfelt. The characters are well developed and it just captures that feeling of being in high school. I highly recommend it.

Photo: From website

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