Published by Hachette UK on March 4th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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They say ‘live every day as if it’s your last’ – but you never actually think it’s going to be. At least I didn’t.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or – in my case – remember to say goodbye to them at all.
But what if, like me, you could live your last day over and over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have no regrets? Or are there some things you’d want to change...?
I shiver, thinking about how easy it is to be totally wrong about people – to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole.
Back in 2010, I read Before I Fall and immediately thought I’d found a new favourite author. I eagerly awaited every book Lauren Oliver released after it and yet, I have disliked every single one. My dislike for her writing style in books like Rooms and Vanishing Girls made me wonder what happened.
Could it be that Oliver’s style had so drastically changed? Or was it my own changing tastes that had pulled me away from her books?
Returning to this book in 2015, it is still as fantastic as I remember. It is truly such a strong YA Contemporary (with a non-realistic spin) and the writing is perfect. The saddest thing about reading this book again was finally understanding how much Oliver’s style has changed, in my opinion, for the worse.
Before I Fall is about popular mean girl – Samantha Kingston – and her group of popular friends. When Samantha dies in a car crash on the eve of her school’s “Cupid Day”, she awakens once again in the morning of the same day. Has she been given a second chance? A chance to put it right? To solve the mystery? To prevent her death?
For the next seven days, Samantha wakes up on February 12. She must learn the truth behind her unfortunate end and, by doing so, she finds herself tangled up in the lives of those she’d cared little for before.
The novel’s strength is both in the overarching story and its outcome, and also in the details. So many characters are affected by Samantha’s actions and they become more and more developed and complex as Samantha learns to really see them. Every character is handled with sympathy, turning mean girls, losers and geeks into human beings, each with their own story.
It is a lesson on the dangers of bullying and how careless actions can have a huge negative impact on someone’s life. But it also offers an understanding and sometimes sympathetic view of the people who do the bullying. It’s such an interesting, multi-layered story.
Moving, thoughtful, and just as powerful the second time around.