As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

September 30, 2010

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, 2010

Before I FallSam Kingston is pretty, popular, and has a seemingly perfect boyfriend. But after a late-night party everything goes terribly wrong, and the life that she lived is gone forever. Or is it? At the start of Before I Fall, Sam is self-consumed and oblivious about the impact of her actions on others. But as she repeatedly experiences slightly altered versions of the hours leading up to her death—and her relationships with friends, family, and formerly overlooked classmates bloom, end, or shift—it’s impossible not to feel for the girl whose life ends too soon. Oliver’s adept teen dialogue and lively prose make for a fast, page-turning story in which the reader is every bit as emotionally invested as Sam. (Amazon Product Description)

Review by Jessica Day George, Middle Grade and Young Adult Author

This book is touted as being a mash up of Groundhog Day and Mean Girls, which I suppose it is, but that’s hardly doing it justice. (Not that I don’t love both of those movies.) This book explores two very interesting topics, on the one hand it’s a look at popularity from the inside: the struggle to achieve status, and what you have to do to hold onto it. It also takes us into the idea that every little thing we do has consequences that we cannot predict.
Sam Kingston, our heroine if she can be called such, is not unlikable. She’s pretty, popular, has a crush on her teacher, hardly speaks to her parents, is impatient with her little sister, is rude to her childhood friend who is not longer in the same clique as she is—she’s the quintessential popular teenager . . . but still not unlikable.
Because as the book unfolds, and as you read about Sam fighting for her life, you see her for what she is: flawed, beautiful, irritating, funny and real. You begin to understand why she does the things she does, even if she doesn’t completely understand it all herself. And as she becomes increasingly desperate to save not only herself but the others who are affected by her actions, you love Sam more and more, and you root for her from the bottom of your heart.
By the end of this book, I was literally curled up in a tense little ball on the couch, gritting my teeth with anxiety. Because Sam, as I’ve said, is not just fighting for her life, but the lives and futures of several of her peers. It was shocking and thought-provoking to see how everyone around Sam was affected, and how futile some of her attempts at fixing the situation are. Slip into a parking spot before the captain of the swim team, and BAM, she’s out of the next meet and doesn’t get a scholarship. Smile at someone, don’t smile at someone, wear boots instead of stilettos, all of it makes a difference.
It made me think about what I was doing with my own daily interactions: could I be nicer, should I have been on time for that meeting, what if I don’t mail that card today? I detest the phrase: It really makes you think . . . but I cannot deny it: this book really makes you think. And cry. And laugh. And then cry some more. Cathartic and inspiring!
Market: Young Adult
Language:  A little foul (teenager-moderate)
Sensuality: Moderate
Violence:  Mild
Mature Themes: death, suicide, depression, bullying, underage drinking and sexuality

Book formats:
Before I Fall (Hardcover)
Before I Fall (Kindle)

To learn more about the author, visit her website: Lauren Oliver

To learn more about the reviewer and her books, visit: Jessica Day George. Or her author page on Amazon, here.

3 comments:

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Wow - I don't even like young adult books, but you make that one sound SO good I want to try it!

Brooke Serrano said...

Hello ,
Truly wow !! You maded me want to read this book and the first time I saw this on the self I didn't want to touch it , because it didn't look like a very good book !! I can't wait to read this !! Without your review I wouldn't have gotten the chance to learn more about this book . Thank you !!

Queen Scarlett said...

...adding this to my goodreads list. Fascinating.