Place(s) Traveled to: Ridgeview, Connecticut
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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.
At first I did not like Sam.
Boy did I not like her. She is popular and rude and just everything that I wasn’t in high school. In fact she reminded me of a few unpleasant people that I had the misfortune to know in school and I wasn’t all that upset when she died. I know. I know….I’m a terrible horrible person!!
But then….Sam wakes up. She tries again. And before I knew it I was caring more then I ever thought possible for this girl. There is real character growth here and while the story takes place over seven days – which is such a short time – Lauren Oliver tackles all these changes in a real and believable way. By the end of the story I had been wrung through a whole gauntlet of emotions that I was spent. I laughed, I cried, my heart broke and my heart was healed. With each new day the story just became richer and more layered and while you knew what was going to happen there was still something new and different that it kept you on your toes.
For me though this book wasn’t all about love. I did have some serious issues with the ending and how I feel that the story played out. And while, in my discussions with the fabulous Lauren Oliver, have shown that I’m wrong (yes Lauren I’m admitting it since you ARE the author and creator of the story and DO know best)…..I still stand by my interpretation of the story. An interpretation that at first Lauren was surprised at since it wasn’t one that had initially crossed her mind. One thing we both agreed on thought that part of what makes reading so interesting is that everyone comes away from a story with something different. Reading is such a uniquely personal experience that I don’t think that the same person can re-read a story the same way, that every read of a book is different.
But I digress.
So back to Before I Fall…as I said I didn’t like how the book ended. For me I think that it was wonderful the changes that Sam made but in the end the changes were all about her and it goes back to her initial selfish nature. Was the world she lived in better when the sun rose on 13 Feb? Or where things a little more broken because of the changes that she made in reliving her last day? I ask this because one thing Sam does in the story is to start a new relationship with a boy that she hadn’t thought much of before then. A really sweet adorkable boy that I just adored and if she didn’t live through her accident then how would her death affect him now….as opposed to how he’d be affected if Sam was still the mean girl she was?
One of the things that bothered me most, based on my interpretation of the read, was that it seemed like Sam was talking herself into suicide. That there was no other possible outcome then for the accident to happen as it did. But did she try all the possible outcomes? Was there a way for the ending to be different? Who is to say. Although I know that if there was a happily ever after I know that would have upset me too. Because life isn’t perfect. There are some beautiful and wonderful things in the world but there is also pain, heartache and sacrifice. I think that Before I Fall is a stunningly well written book and while there were things that I disliked…a lot…I loved the writing and the world building. Its on the writing that I base my 5 star rating the fact that I loved Oliver’s words despite not agreeing with them. That and the endless potential for discussion in this book. If you are in a book club then I highly recommend that you choose this book for one of your reads.
And no matter what you think of Before I Fall…love it, hate it…what ever you feel drop a line to Lauren Oliver and tell her so. Authors love to hear from readers and she is so awesomely amazing that I know she’d love to discuss her words with you. I’m also living proof that she won’t dislike you if you don’t agree with her 100%. =)
I also want to take a quick moment to plug my friend Sharon’s Amazing Before I Fall Contest Extravaganza. This contest is filled with win, if you go out and buy this wonderful book then run over and resgister to win some wonderful prizes. How often does someone want to reward you for buying a book? Not very often….so head over there by 14 March and enter!