Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 2010. [March 2010]. HarperCollins. 480 pages.
They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me.
Our narrator, Sam (Samantha) Kingston, has died. But that's not the end of this story, no, it's only the beginning. Because Sam keeps reliving her last day over and over and over again. Six times Sam relives her last day--knowing that it is her last day. Will knowing change anything? Will Sam change? Can she change? Is there a way to save herself?
Sam has been given a rather unique window of opportunity. She knows things others don't. She makes new observations each time through--learns things about her friends, her classmates, things that matter.
I'll be honest. I hated Sam. I hated her friends. I thought they were awful people--just awful. Sam realizes this too. Though she realizes it a bit too late. It's only after she's died that she realizes the person she's become isn't the person she'd want to be. Sam has the opportunity to use each 'second' chance to change. Small things at first. But by the end, Sam isn't the same. Sam has learned (although it is a lesson learned the hard way) that little things do matter. Little decisions, little things, do have an impact not only on how you live your life but on other people in your life as well. The way you treat others does matter.
This one has a clever premise. One I hadn't seen before in a young adult novel. (Though, of course, dead narrators have been done before.) And the best thing about it is that the promising premise doesn't disappoint. (You know, some books have great premises but fail to carry it out.) I think Lauren Oliver did a good job. Especially with her characterization. As each layer is added to the unfolding story, it just gets better and better. A very compelling book!
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews