Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

I couldn't put this book down!

Before I Fall is told in the first-person by high school Senior, Samantha Kingston, as she lives one day over and over again - like Groundhog Day without Bill Murray's humor.  The day she is living over again is the day she dies. 

She is in the popular clique, has the cutest boyfriend, goes to the best parties, and even gets to smart-mouth her teachers without consequence.  Why?  Because that's the way high school hierarchy works.  Is she the nicest or the prettiest girl?  No. And she quickly realizes that popularity may save her from detention, but it won't save her from fate. 

She realizes the ripple effect one small action has on everything and everyone around her, and a big change may be catastrophic.  As she lives this one day over and over again, she chooses what she wants to change, what she can control, and learns that some things you simply can not change.
"I'm a nonperson, a shadow, a ghost.  Even before the accident I'm not sure that I was a whole person - that's what I'm realizing now.  And I'm not sure where the damage begins."

When I saw reviews for Before I Fall practically wallpapering the book blogs a few months ago, it caught my eye, but I was doubtful that I would love it as much as other bloggers like Jenn's Bookshelf. Bookalicious or S.Krishna's Books.  Was I wrong! 

I couldn't put this book down.  It may sound hefty at 480 pages, but I read it practically in one day.  It's been a while since I devoured a book like this.  I cooked with it, I folded laundry with it, I sat outside with it, and I skipped an episode of my favorite show to read it! 

Oliver's characters are complex and honest, even if unlikable at times.  Each time Samantha lives her day, she finds out more about the people around her, their lives, their secrets.  In return, she does a lot of soul searching herself, taking a hard look at who she is and what she is leaving behind.   During her journey, she offers her audience some advice on the hard lessons she's learning.

"Maybe for you there's a tomorrow.  Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it,roll around in it, let it slide like couins through your fingers.  So much time you can waste it. 
   But for some of us there's only today.  And the truth is, you never really know."

I'm still not sure I am okay with the way Oliver closed the book.  I had to re-read the last few pages.  Maybe I simply didn't want it to end.  I don't want to spoil the ending by telling you what I wanted and didn't get, but if you enjoy YA fiction, you won't be disappointed with Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall

Book Trailer:

About the Book:
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006172680X
ISBN-13: 978-0061726804

About the Author:

Visit Lauren Oliver's website/blog here.

Visit Before I Fall at Harper Collins for a reading guide, audio excerpt and more.


bermudaonion said...

I'm so glad to see you loved this too. I do enjoy YA and I'm looking forward to this book.

Ruth said...

What age would you recommend this for? My 9 & 12 year olds are a rabid reader so I am always looking for new books for them but we try to keep things age appropriate. They've read everything in that age range, though.

Christina T said...

Great review! I loved this book and thought it was a very moving story. I am glad you enjoyed it too :)

I agree with you about the way the book ended but it made sense to end that way even if I didn't want it to.

Alison's Book Marks said...

Bermuda Onion - Are you like me? Reading more YA now than when we WERE YA? :)


Ruth - Only you can say what is appropriate for your kids, but I wouldn't recommend this for your 9 year old at all. There is a lot of teen drinking - one party replayed 7 times worth, keg stands, stealing/hiding liquor from parents, drunk driving, and in general I felt that the drinking was somewhat glamourized. No real consequence of it at all. There are sexual themes in the book as well - including a strange interlude between a teacher and student, a girl in the group who is slutty and proud of it, and this last day the main character lives, is supposed to be the day she loses her virginity. So, they talk about that A LOT.

Amanda said...

My book club is reading this in the next few months and I'm very excited about it!

Espana said...

This book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The way it slowly tells you what happenes by uncovering a little each chapter. Although the chapters are long it is a pretty easy read. For sure this book is for teen/young adults.

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