Monday, March 1, 2010
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Pub. Date: March 02, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardcover, 480pp
Age Range: Young Adult
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
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.
Fortunately, 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.
This book really got me thinking and drew me in. I read it as part of Barnes and Nobles first look book club and after the first four chapters I just couldn’t stick to the reading schedule, I wasn’t able to stop myself from reading further! The book starts with the main character telling you that she is dead but will be reliving her last day seven times. This intrigues me right from the start, I wondered why Sam had to relive the day and if it was possible for her to correct whatever the problem might be and be able to cheat death. The day she relives seven times is Friday, February 12 (which coincidentally we had this year and was during the time I was reading the book) which is Cupid Day at Sam’s High School. A lot of emphasis is put on how many flowers you receive which is then linked to popularity.
Sam is part of the in crowd along with her friends Lindsay, Elory and Ally. Lindsay is the queen bee of the group who drives a Range Rover and kind of calls the shots for all of them. While each day is technically the same different decisions lead to different outcomes. On one day they are early and get the last close parking spot, causing a girl on the swim team to park farther away and be late therefore exempting her from a swim competition. Sam is able to take what she learns about her friends and classmates with her from day to day. On one of the days she is very angry with Lindsay about something that happened the prior day, but her anger doesn’t make sense to her friends as they are living the day for the first time.
These girls are hopefully a bit exaggerated stereotypes of teenagers, but along with being quite engrossing the story also brought to light a lot of issues teenagers face that they might not be ready for. Premarital sex, underage drinking, skipping classes, lying to parents, smoking and bullying. On one of the repeats of the day Sam does not drink at a party and sees for herself that while everyone who is drinking thinks they are cool they actually are acting stupid. These kids think they are invincible but no one is. I am hoping that it isn’t really this easy to skip classes and obtain alcohol but I know those things really do happen.
One of the biggest issues for me was the bullying and how it really does affect the victim. Bullying is such a problem, it always has been present in schools and social situations, but I think it has been getting worse. There have been numerous stories in newspapers and magazines about children and teenagers who feel so hopeless from the constant bullying that they resort to suicide. This is one of the things I would most like to see addressed in schools, and while I think schools are trying, I am not sure it is enough and I don’t know that as adults we can see how harmful this behavior really is in the long run.