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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
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Before I Fall (edition 2011)

by Lauren Oliver

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2,0991835,380 (3.87)None
After she dies in a car crash, teenaged Samantha relives the day of her death over and over again until, on the seventh day, she finally discovers a way to save herself.
Member:catthebooklady
Title:Before I Fall
Authors:Lauren Oliver
Info:HarperCollins (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
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Before I Fall [enhanced edition] by Lauren Oliver

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I am not sure how I felt about this book. I am making my way through the books on NPR's best YA novels and I am not sure how much this stands out. It will stick with me probably but it seemed pretty cliche. Popular girl realized she isn't like the rest and has to do things differently to be a better person etc. The death twist was interesting but I was REALLY disappointed that in the end we weren't told which of those days was the one people remembered. It also felt like Sam did a lot of things because she had to to escape the purgatory state. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. I will still keep it as an option for my students to read though :) ( )
  rachelreading | Oct 17, 2020 |
My problem with this story is that the first 15% or so of the story was just the same day over and over again. I think that you can probably read the synopsis, first and last chapter and you would perfectly understand what's going on. There were no plot twists and I found it very predictable. I had high expectations going into this book :(( ( )
  themoonwholistens | Aug 31, 2020 |
this book was really cool! the "re-living a day" concept is pretty common, but it is executed so well int his novel. i absolutely loved the character development in this book. ( )
  kkgautamm | Aug 19, 2020 |
I think every single high school girl should be forced to read this book. I'm pretty sure I'll be thinking about it for weeks after reading it. ( )
  amandanan | Jun 6, 2020 |
Before I Fall

This novel was sometimes great, but mostly boring, and once or twice awful. I had seen the trailer for the movie, and thought it sounded like a really great premise, so I checked the audiobook out at my library. It was narrated by Sarah Drew, who really sounded quite young. This novel is also a YA novel, which I don't usually read. But I'd seen so many favorable reviews on gr, and thought I should give it a try......and now, I'm not sure if I wasted three days, or actually enjoyed some of it. I'm pretty damn mad at the ending though, which I feel was a HUGE cop-out, so that's all mixed up inside, like some kind of emotion stew, set on boil. Yuck!

I will say that Oliver managed to make me unable to stop thinking of this book for days. But every time I thought about it I questioned the premise even more. Also -SPOILERS- if you don't want to know,the ending,of this novel, stop reading here...!!!

--Not only is nothing gained by Sam's death, but I think the Juliet character is actually even worse off. Juliet is still friendless, as the only person in high school who felt some compassion is now dead. And she is also now the person who got one of the most popular girls in school killed. Do you think Lindsay will EVER forgive her? I don't. I think Lindsay will torture her even more.
Lindsey, lets face it, is some kind of fucking hot mess. She didn't really seem to care about anyone but herself. She had some sort of weird death wish while driving. She was shallow, petty, abusive, and emotionally stunted. Lindsey used people in various ways, and if they weren't needed anymore, she dropped them like a hot rock. So if she felt slighted, in the slightest bit, she flew off the handle in a boiling rage that NO ONE could calm. Do you honestly think Lindsey would have let someone like Juliet get away with what she would see as a massive crime, whether Juliet meant this to happen or not? People like that DON'T get over things like this. Ever. Not in real life. And Juliet had been cast aside by Lindsey so very long ago, and now she was beneath Lindsey.....a nothing. A nobody. Less than this. Just so Lindsey could save face.

Also, I think that Sam's death would not only prevented Juliet from gaining a real friend, but also just make her not only an outcast, but the most hated girl in school. And probably no less suicidal. I mean, if this Juliet couldn't even see her home life as some kind of succor from the day-to-day trauma of bullying, and had no support at all like we are led to believe, then why wouldn't she try and kill her self once again, when all the drama from Sam's death had died down? And once everyone in her family stopped watching Juliet so closely, to see if she would try anything else to kill herself? Which most teens who are very serious about this, certainly do try again. And again.
I really wish Sam had just been in a coma. Or some kind of Groundhog Day meets It's a Wonderful Life type of movie, instead.

Plus, how did Sam really change anything? While it may feel like she got closer to her family and stepped out of her role as silent tormentor at school, she didn't really because only the last day counted. So the reader is led to conflate Sam's entire experience with what the people around her also experienced. You said, "But mostly because martyrdom is fiction’s shorthand for redemption," and this is my biggest issue.
While Oliver could have made the experience something that truly changed Sam (and the people around her) for the better, instead it felt like a cop out. Like the story wasn't allowed to go where it organically should because Oliver wanted to "surprise" readers.

While I agree with some gr reviewers that SOMEtimes Oliver's writing is captivating, at some points, I must disagree with something else; Kent is also one of the most engaging characters I've read in a while and I think that's what actually hurts Oliver. She made him too likable. So as soon as Sam dies all you can think is "what about Kent?" and the ending starts becoming more and more questionable. I mean, Kent literally loved Sam since....what? Middle school? Elementary school....? Don't you think this is going to be just the slightest bit devastating to him, afterwards? No matter the reasons.....? What a shaft. I don't know how this poor guy would be able to get over this.

I think I've also figured out another reason why the ending bothered me so much: it was a cheap trick. Partly because it feels like Oliver’s response to those who will identify this as Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls (which it totally is, but not in a good way). The ending seems to scream, “It might be like those movies, but look how much deeper this is. The main character dies. You don’t see THAT in those movies, hunh?!?” But mostly because martyrdom is fiction’s shorthand for redemption. And, sometimes, very rarely, it works. But in this book it doesn’t.
There’s a quote that I think applies very well for this ending: “Dying is easy. It’s living that’s hard.” And dying was the easy way out for Sam. She spent her entire afterlife knowing that she would never have to live with the consequences of her actions. It was most obvious in the utter breakdown of day four, but it was also somewhat present every single day.
Throwing yourself in front of a truck can’t be easy, but for Sam I think it would be even harder for her to live out the rest of high school, to have to stand up to Lindsay next time she tortured Juliet, or wrote nasty graffiti about other girls, or spread rumors about how so-and-so was such a slut, or tried to talk Sam out of dating a social loser like Kent. Dealing with that every single day and knowing she had to live with the ramifications of her actions would be a true test of character for Sam. Could she do it? Could she stand up to the constant social pressure? Could she stand up to her friends? To Lindsay? Could she be nice to people and defend them and not let her friends be cruel? Could she risk being unpopular? Or would she slide back to the easier path, staying silent, telling herself it’s not her fault because she didn’t start it, and that since she saved Juliet’s life that one time, so her karmic debt is paid? Would love win, over not having any friends anymore, while the entire school acts like you're not worth knowing.....? I wonder.

A better ending would have Sam not be able to return to normal until she stands up for Juliet at the party. Not this trying to talk Juliet out of suicide in private. Not this avoiding future consequences by dying.
Not ONLY being there when Juliet walks into the party and Lindsay starts a chant of “Pscyho! Psycho!” BUT ALSO standing in front of everyone, in front of all her friends and peers, and telling them all to shut up, and to stop being mean to Juliet. To tell everyone that Juliet’s not weird, that they need to grow up and stop being such bullies. And then to wake up the next day and go to school and deal with the fallout of that. And maybe even befriend Juliet and deal with whatever the social consequences are. A less shocking ending, yeah. But a more satisfying one. And one that's much, MUCH more grown up, to me.

Sarah Drew, the narrator on the other hand, was sometimes very overly dramatic, in that way I cannot stand in teenagers. But some times she was heart-breakingly pure, and emoting so well, and I twice had tears flowing out of my eyes when she got the tone and the feeling just right.....!! In those few times, I had stopped wishing this ridiculously horrible child in a teenager's body would get her shit together, grow the fuck up, and stop fucking with other people's heads, just for fun. I had stopped wishing, hoping, and PRAYING that this audiobook would be over soon, and I could move on to something much more satisfying. And yes, this does help me to keep this novel/audiobook off the "this was awful" list. And YES, these few, precious times were when Sam was with the ever adorable Kent, and things were going sooooo well..... *sigh*. A SLIGHT redemption, but it helped. And I adored those few, precious parts of the novel......
And then the whole fucking day would start over. AGAIN.

So I am teetering between 2 and 3 stars for this novel, as it has so many issues the author could have dealt with instead, and made this a truly wonderful novel. And not really recommended, unless you like a little masochism with your YA romance/coming of age novel.

( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
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After she dies in a car crash, teenaged Samantha relives the day of her death over and over again until, on the seventh day, she finally discovers a way to save herself.

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