Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult
(From Goodreads) What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times 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.
What I thought:
I listened to this book as an audio download from my library. I find that household chores aren’t as horrible if I’m listening to a good book. I had read and loved Lauren Oliver’s Delirium and thought I would give this one a try.
Samantha (Sam) is a mean girl. She and her friends were the type of girls I couldn’t stand when I was in high school. Girls like this are the reason I am so glad to never have to go back to high school. They are cruel, self-centered bullies. “Before I fall” follows Sam on the last day of her life. A day she is forced to relive over seven times. During these seven days Sam sees into the lives of those that surround her, kids she has hurt and those who she has called friends, and her views are challenged.
Sam is not a likable character to say the least. Even as Sam’s story progresses and we see her learning the depth of pain her behavior can cause, I never found myself liking her more. At times I felt sorry for her, as she realized her own fears, but I never really liked her. I suppose I had hoped for more of an Ebenezer Scrooge type of transformation. I know not all characters have to be likable, but it has always been hard for me to connect to a story when I don’t like the main characters. Most of the books I’ve never finished have been for this reason.
In spite of this I did find myself wanting to finish the book. I needed to see how Sam’s story resolved. I was curious to see if she ever really got it. If she ever made amends or righted her wrongs. Mostly, I wanted to see situations resolved for some of the surrounding characters, particularly Juliet Sykes, who was often the victim of Sam and her friends’ bullying. While I may not have found the main characters relatable, I did find Juliet relatable. She was the character I related to the most. The one I rooted for the most. In high school, I was often the bullied and could relate to the Juliet’s situation. I’m sure my experience of high school isn’t much different than many others and I wonder if many of us find ourselves rooting for this underdog.
Just one more note:
This book is definitely for the older Young Adult reader. My young teen daughter will not be reading this one. Teenage alcohol abuse and promiscuity are a large part of the story, since one of the major settings is a drunken party. That said it certainly tackles the subject of bullying head on in a very direct way.