Oliver, Lauren. Before I Fall. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2010.
Just finished reading this, though I have been meaning to read it since I heard about it a few months ago. Left me in tears, in a good way. Wow, what an amazing book! Kind of like… Gossip Girl meets Groundhog Day. Before I Fall is about Sam, an 18-year-old girl who dies, then must relive the day over and over. What would you do if you could relive a day that nobody else remembers? At first Sam thinks it’s deja vu. Then she wonders if anyone else is experiencing it. Then she realizes it is only her, so one day she says all the things she’s always wanted to say but couldn’t, knowing that when she wakes up it will all be erased. She goes to sleep one night in a fight with her best friend Linsday, and in the morning Lindsay acts like it never happened, because for her… it didn’t. But what happens when Sam starts to see things from different perspectives, to see herself and her friends as others see them? What happens when she sees repercussions of actions like cheating on a pop quiz, or making fun of people? And most importantly, what happens when she lives the day that she knows will finally be her last?
I loved this book to pieces. It is unforgettable. I downloaded the sample for my Kindle, and by the time I was done with that I knew I had to read the whole thing. Every time I picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down. I stayed up too late on several different nights because it was so compelling. Characters mentioned only by name one day become central to a scene, or to the whole book, on another. Sam’s emotional journey as the days pass is believable as she moves through disbelief, anger, love, apathy, hope… Most of all, this book is about hope.
Each day is the same, but each day is so very different. While she doesn’t learn to play piano like Bill Murray, she does have lessons of her own. With each small change she makes, she sees how her actions can alter the lives of others in big ways. In the end, it’s up to Sam to decide what she wants to do with her last shot. What impression does she want to leave on everyone? What does she want them to remember? What legacy will she leave behind? Read this book to find out. (Cue Reading Rainbow music clip.)