Earlier this year, I read a list created by my good friend Katie over at Paperback Planes that details the 10 books she believes everyone must read at least once. Luckily for me, I have read the majority of books on the list, save for two, one of which was Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I decided to pick this book up first namely because 1. the premise sounded really interesting and 2. Katie strongly recommended it to me and Katie's recommendations have always been spot on.
I'll admit that it took me a while to get really far into the book, but that was largely due to work and other real life obligations. But, once I got past the first 100 or so pages, I couldn't put it down (regardless of whether or not I should have really been heading to the bank...). Samantha Kingston is part of the most popular group of girls at her high school. She's also a mean girl that laughs at and torments others with her friends, actions they believe don't cause much harm. On a Friday night, Sam and her friends go to Kent Mc Fuller's party and the night ends with a car accident that leaves Sam dead. Sam is then forced to relive her final day a total of 7 times, each time changing certain aspects in order to try to save herself. It's only until she reaches the seventh time, does she come to realize that the point of reliving her final day was not what she believed it to be at all.
Before I Fall tackles some serious moral and philosophical questions. Sam's story illustrates how the smallest actions have serious consequences, affecting even the person you least expect in a novel way. The author successfully showed how people's lives are interwoven and by allowing the reader to see Sam's life through her eyes, allows us to also contemplate our own. When I finished the novel, I really thought back on my own high school experience. I wasn't the mean girl that Sam is shown to be, but I also wasn't an outcast like Juliet Sykes. Looking back, is weird because I realized that while I was in high school, I just thought of myself as a typical nerd, which in most YA books/teen movies would put me at the bottom of the social ladder. But I was respected for liking school, for having plans to go to college, for doing well in school - people that I didn't know knew my name just because they heard, I was "smart." So while I was in high school, I thought my experience was a lot worse than what it actually was. Looking back, my high school experience was quite good. But of course, there are always things you would want to change.
I think that Lauren Oliver's book, more than anything, shows us that at any one moment, you have tens of thousands of decisions before you and that each and every decision shapes who you are as a person. You can always daydream about what your life would be like had you done this, or changed that, but in the end, you made your decisions, so you must live with the consequences.
Before I Fall overall, is a wonderful book. It flows smoothly and I honestly hardly felt the length at all! Many of the pop culture references in this book are of course outdated, but that's beside the point. If anything, the pop culture references paint a more realistic story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Thank you Katie, for recommending it!