Saturday, January 8, 2011

My take on: Before I Fall

I don't know if it's possible, but I loved and hated Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver all at the same time. Loved her writing and had some major hate for the main character Samantha "Sam" Kingston. Sam and her friends Lindsay, Elody and Ally were the type of girls I would have hated in high school. The mean girls. The popular girls who travel in packs with their equally cool boyfriends. The type of girls who ignore or make fun of people who aren't like them. Oliver adeptly taps into the teenage angst, which I'm sure many of us felt growing up. In the 10 and half years since I graduated from high school, I can truthfully say I never want to go back.

Sam is a high school senior with an air of invincibility. Nothing can bring her down, not even the freshmen, sophomores, juniors or her family. But something is about to bring her down. Something no carefree teenager ever thinks about. Death. Your own mortality is something you think about until you're old. Sam is about experience the day of her death, February 12 Cupid Day, over and over again. Is it a dream? Has time stopped? Is this a punishment? What can she do to stop it?

The first time around it is supposed to be a special day for Sam. How many roses can she get on Cupid Day? What will the rose from her boyfriend Rob say? Will it say something special? Because tonight is also supposed to be their special night. The night when they go all the way. But first she must get through the day. A day spent looking down on the underclassmen and tormenting the school outcast Juliet Sykes, who kills herself on one of those days. When I was that age, I always wondered why people acted that way. What was the motivation? Why single out certain people? Do they even know?

"The point is, we can do things like that. You know why? Because we're popular. And we're popular because we can get away with everything. So it's circular."

They do it just because they can.

The first night culminates in a night of partying and Sam's death in a car accident. But when she wakes up the next morning, it just seems like a nightmare. The subsequent days are marked by Sam trying to change the circumstances of the day. The changes don't always work, the consequences get worse. Changing the circumstances of the day doesn't have the desired effect. Or should she change herself and the people around her? Repeating the day gives her more clarity on her life. She can see the flaws in herself, her boyfriend and her friends. Calling Lindsay out on her behavior results in rejection. Do they really know each other? Did they ever know each other?

"As I head up from the gym it strikes me how strange people are. You can see them every day -- you can think you know them -- and then you find out you hardly know them at all."

In the beginning, I hated Sam. She doesn't think about others. She helps in tormenting Juliet Sykes. Her popularity and friends are paramount, and everything else is secondary. It takes a traumatic experience for her to reevaluate her life. Before she died, Sam couldn't be bothered to embrace her family. Later she takes the time out to spend time with them. By the end, I cared about Sam. I cared if she lived or died. I cared if she could make things right. To me, the ending is a little on the ambiguous side, but a fitting one. Definitely give this one a read.

Rating: O.M.G !!!

Notes: For more information on author Lauren Oliver visit

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