published March 2nd 2010 by HarperCollins (first published 2010)
details Hardcover, 470 pages
characters Ally, Samantha Kingston, Lindsay Edgecomb, Elody, Juliet Sykes, Elizabeth Kingston
setting Connecticut (United States)
literary awards YALSA Best Fiction Nominee for Young Adults (2010)
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend,three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
From HarperCollins Canada website
This was probably one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. I finished the book quite awhile ago, but every time I sat down to write about it, I got stuck. I got emotional. And really, that’s what this novel is about:getting stuck in a certain lifestyle, feeling stuck with the outcome of our action and the emotions tied up with realizing you need to make a change and actually trying.
This was a hard read for me on a couple of levels. First off, I really didn’t like Sam, the main character, for a huge portion of the book. She was not only popular, but she was pretty obnoxious about it. But part of the brilliance of Before I Fall is that the reader really isn’t supposed to like her at first. But as she grows and becomes more aware of her actions and the feelings of others, the reader can’t help but grow to like her. Also, despite the fact that I didn’t like Sam, or her friends, I never once considered putting the book down and not finishing it, which is a testament to Oliver’s writing.
Without giving anything away, the climax and ending of the book were also hard for me. So much, in fact, that I actually didn’t want to read the last few pages. The author chose a tough subject, and didn’t hold back in the end. While it made for a beautiful read, it was also a difficult one for me and I imagine a lot of readers.
The whole concept of dying and reliving your last day until you get it right could have been written with a lot of cheese, chock full of cliches. Thankfully Oliver choose the hard road and wrote it in a painfully honest manner. Never once did I feel cheated by the flow of the story. And while there definitely was a message to the book, Oliver did a super job of not shoving it down the reader’s throat.
This book had a huge affect on me in a way that not many books do. I was moved by the journey of self-discovery that Sam went on as she tried to figure out what changes she needed to make on the day that she died. She set out to fix just the events of that day, but ended up fixing so much more.
I guess when it comes down to it, this was perhaps one of the most honest books I have read in a while. And while the story was emotional hard to read at times, the writing and the plot were so beautiful that it was well worth it.
Before I Fall has been one of my favorite reads so far this year. I think everyone who reads it will love it as much as I did.