As an individual, I love reading and will read almost anything. Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall is one that appealed to me as a voracious reader (I’ve read her Delirium trilogy and enjoyed it) so I figured that another one of her novels would be a good choice.
Before I Fall can be considered realistic fiction as far as genres go. The plot revolves around Samantha Kingston, a popular student at her local high school. One day, she is in a fatal car accident and Friday, February 12th becomes her last. There is a catch: Samantha wakes up the next morning. She has to relive the last day of her life seven times during one eye-opening week.
At the start of the novel, the reader comes to loathe Samantha. She is unkind to people, she is reckless, and she ignores the lives of those who surround her every day (for instance, her family). It is, however, all a part of author Lauren Oliver’s master plan.
This book has meaningful character development as Sam starts to question what is most important while living now that her life has ended. Having to live the same day over again multiple times (déjà vu, anyone?) makes her question what we should value most in life. Before the accident, she doesn’t think twice about who she is hurting or how she is impacting an individual’s life. After the accident, she knows she has died but those around her do not.
Sam treats her “annoying little sister” Izzy with more compassion and more respect, recognizing that she will never see her baby sister grow into a woman. Sam reconsiders the lives of the people she has hurt and bullied, and makes an effort to be kinder towards them. It is clear to the reader that she regrets past actions and with each day she relives, she works harder to repair damage she had done. And finally, Sam learns the true meaning of love and the power it holds.
Despite the fact that yes, this novel is set during high school, the concepts that Oliver introduces are ones that we can relate to at any point in our lives. The book resonates with the truth that we never know when our lives could end. Before I Fall tells us we must place value on the relationships, interests, and importance of living before it goes away in the blink of an eye.
As each relived day passes, Sam discovers more about herself and her interactions with people. She spends the first few days rebelling, doing insanely crazy things (no spoilers, but you will be shocked, I guarantee it) because she knows that it will all be erased the next morning. But as the truth of her death settles in, she starts to change how she reenacts each day – and each day becomes more positive than the last.
I do not want to reveal the ending to you. I hope that you will pick up Before I Fall for yourself, if only to see how Sam’s story ends and how her path is ultimately altered. Read it for the insight and the viewpoint Lauren Oliver gives us – that we have incredible power to affect the people around us for the better. I hope that this novel makes you question what you value, and how to help foster positive relationships in your life. Regardless of our age, soul-searching is ongoing and crucial to our development as people. I will share with you a passage from the novel:
It amazes me how easy it is for things to change, how easy it is to start off down the same road you always take and wind up somewhere new. Just one false step, one pause, one detour, and you end up with new friends or a bad reputation or a boyfriend or a breakup. It’s never occurred to me before; I’ve never been able to see it. And it makes me feel, weirdly, like maybe all of these different possibilities exist at the same time, like each moment we live has a thousand other moments layered underneath it that look different (Oliver 285).
Talk about some powerful writing. The idea that each moment we live has many others inside it is something I feel that we can all relate to. It is Oliver’s strength as an author. And at the end of the novel, I had come to understand and respect Samantha for who she had become in the event of her accident. I think you will too.
Have you read Before I Fall? What did you think?
If you haven’t, we strongly suggest picking up a copy – it’s not a story to be missed.