BOOK: Before I Fall
AUTHOR: Lauren Oliver
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
PAGES: 470 (Hardcover)
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, is a captivating novel told from the point of view of the main protagonist Samantha Kingston. This is her story of an extraordinary day that was repeated seven times, giving her a chance to change her, and her loved ones lives, forever. Before I Fall conveys a powerful message that won’t be forgotten, and the reader will assuredly find this book a well-written, deeply thoughtful book, that is well worth the time and effort to read.
A key point of this story is the plot, which is highly unusual yet strangely appealing at the same time. Samantha is supposed to have the perfect life, but on Valentines Day 2009, everything begins to unravel. After a frightful confrontation at a party with a girl she once bullied, Sam’s friend Lindsay crashes their car into a tree on the way home and it is implied that Sam dies. But instead of moving on Sam wakes up to find it is still February 14th, and she discovers that she has seven chances to relive the day she died. Over the course of that bizarre week, Sam learns that her life was very far from perfect, and she made many mistakes she can now try to undo.
Most of this book takes place in Sam’s school and her friend Kevin’s house, where the party takes place. It is told in first person by Sam, giving you an inside look into her private thoughts and feelings whilst these astonishing events take place. Whilst this novel would be classified as having a strong fiction or drama theme, there are also some supernatural elements that make it more compelling. A strong theme carried throughout this book is the theory of life and death, and if you knew you were going to die, what would you do?
Ms. Oliver has cleverly mixed both real issues and fantastical events to somehow make a believable and interesting novel, with the refreshingly down-to-earth narration of a troubled young woman. Sam is spoilt at the beginning, yet over the book she begins to change for the better, and becomes less selfish. She is someone easily understood and openly honest. Her best friend Lindsay, a victim of parental abuse, is another interesting take on an adolescent, and shows just how your childhood affects you later on in life.
Juliet is Sam’s counterpart, and the one thing that makes this story infinitely more real. Her constant torture in and out of school has deeply affected her, and she is a symbol of the deeper messages in the novel. The unravelling of her story is engrossing, and allows the reader access to both sides, the bully’s, and the victim’s, which is something most do not get to see and is unique to this novel.
Lauren Oliver has created a novel focussed on some of the darkest aspects of humanity, although she manages to find a positive and turn it into something inspiring. Sam’s emotional journey during the events of this book is a story that will captivate even the most disinterested audience, and will stick most firmly in my mind as an incredible book that I will always remember.