Friday, January 28, 2011
Amazing Book Alert: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
Amazing already, I know. Not to mention Lauren Oliver managed to create one of the most realistic teenage voices I've read, while still incorporating beautiful writing and some of the most creative uses of metaphor and analogy I've come across.
I'll admit that at first, I found Sam somewhat unlikable. She's pretty and popular and well aware of it, and she and her friends use it as a license to walk all over people. They're the kind of girls I avoided like the plague in high school.
She confesses early on that she doesn't even like the way her boyfriend kisses, yet she plans to lose her virginity to him later that night just to get it over with. She's too cool for her childhood friend Kent, who adores her. She's dismissive of her little sister and ruthless to an outcast named Juliet Sykes, whom her friends have nicknamed Psycho. Each year on Cupid Day, when everyone measures their popularity by the number of roses received from their classmates, they torment Juliet by sending her a rose with the note Maybe next year, but probably not. It's exactly the kind of rotten thing high school girls will do, just because they can. And it's heartbreaking.
But that's only day one. Eighty pages in, Sam dies for the first time. She realizes fairly quickly that she died and that the wrinkle in time means she needs to change something - she just can't figure out what. From there on, each time she relives the day of her death, she learns something new - about her friends, herself, the things she thought were important and the things that really were.
Each day brings a new plot twist and a new emotional rollercoaster. Her interactions become more tender, more meaningful. And (*somewhat spoilerish*) when she discovers just how amazing Kent is, I fell in love with him myself. Extra points to Lauren Oliver for not one, but two incredibly beautiful kissing scenes. Anyhow, the points that are truly driven home are 1) the fact that our actions cause chain reactions, with lasting effects we may not even be aware of and 2) it's never too late to be remembered well, and not just remembered - if you so decide.
The reader will get the point before Sam does, but when she gets there, she is a far cry from the unlikable girl in pages 1-80. You'll want her to live and yet you'll be dying to know what happens next. It's completely worth it to share her journey. Seriously, go read this book.