Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
How I heard about it: I previously read Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
Summary: On February 12th, Sam dies. She re-lives the same day seven times, and each time has the chance to fix things that went wrong or to make things right that were so incredibly broken in her life. She learns a lot about her friends and how her decisions can impact everyone around.
In June 2011, I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I was on a huge dystopian kick and didn’t fall in love with Oliver’s work in the same way everyone else proclaimed to. Since then, I was hesitant to pick up Before I Fall. What if it was something I just didn’t enjoy? Or maybe Oliver’s writing just didn’t resonate with me?
I have to say, dear readers, that I am humbled to admit I was grasping for more and left in awe after reading this book.
I finished Before I Fall with tear-stained cheeks. I was choking back more tears. I stayed up until almost 2AM to finish this book, and couldn’t stop thinking. It’s like I could not turn my brain off. It made me think so much about how our decisions, even the most mundane, can impact someone else’s life so deeply.
When I was first introduced to Sam and her posse of best friends, I couldn’t stand them. They epitomized the term mean girls. They were obsessed with Sam losing her virginity that night to her “perfect” boyfriend. They were fixated on calling one another sluts and were so drunk and wasted. They were a huge turn off, to say the least. I didn’t know how Oliver would turn Sam into a likable character because she was beyond pathetic.
It was a gutsy move on Oliver’s behalf to make the characters so unlikable. However, the progression of the story was beautiful. It took time before Sam understood that each day she would wake up and relive the previous day over again. When things began to click in her head that what she did could alter how other people’s days would go, I wanted to jump up and down. Slowly I began to understand how little Sam really thought for herself, how intimidated she was by the thought of not being popular, and how her idea of perfect was shaped by her best friend Lindsey.
There was a lot of brokenness and hurt in Before I Fall, and much of it stemmed from Lindsey. She intentionally made life a living hell for Juliet. Sam’s clique called her Psycho and they hated her something fierce. Anna was another girl Lindsey antagonized and defamed. The questions that were always in my mind (and eventually in Sam’s) were why does Lindsey despise these girls so much? What happened?
Sam has to come to terms with the unpopular girl she used to be. A boy named Kent was a huge part of her life before Lindsey adopted her into the popular crowd. There were scenes with Kent that broke my heart and I cried big, sloppy tears. I was crushed by the idea of falling in love with someone and not being able to ever be with them. Kent has a deep love for Sam. He wants to be her protector. He, in all his nerdy gloriousness, is what every girl wants in a guy. He’s so dedicated to Sam, and in the beginning of the book I didn’t get it. I thought he was a weird, creepy geek that drooled over pretty, popular Sam. I loved that I came to know Kent’s true character in the same way that Sam did, slowly and tenderly.
I can’t express in words how much I feel impacted by this book. Usually I pick up another book almost immediately after I’ve finished one. I’ve waited more than 24 hours because I’m still letting things settle after finishing Before I Fall. There are two takeaways I have after reading this book:
- I have now re-read Delirium (and Pandemonium) because I think I may have just read it at the wrong time. I read it right after Divergent, another dystopia I loved, and I unrightfully compared these two books. Lesson learned: don’t read two like books back to back.
- The choices we make, no matter how big or small or how right or wrong they seem, still affect other people. I should remember Sam’s transition from selfish to selfless and pay more attention to how what I’m doing affects those around me.
Please, if you haven’t read Before I Fall, stop what you’re doing right this second and start reading it. I guarantee you won’t regret your decision and you will feel like you learned a huge life lesson when you’ve read the last page.