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)
Mature Themes: death, suicide, depression, bullying, underage drinking and sexualityBefore 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.