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Before I fall by Lauren Oliver
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Before I fall (edition 2010)

by Lauren Oliver

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2,4202892,564 (4.03)101
Member:Raina-Raine
Title:Before I fall
Authors:Lauren Oliver
Info:New York : Harper, c2010.
Collections:INFM 208
Rating:*****
Tags:death, peer pressure, popularity, bullying, suicide, friendship, young adult fiction, redemption, teen, YRCA 2013, self-perception

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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English (284)  German (3)  Spanish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (289)
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
Before I get to the actual review, I'd like to point out that I get it. I totally get this novel.

In fact, it's actually rather refreshing, because let's be honest -- when was the last time you read a book in the point of view of a popular bitch and not the sad bullied girl?

I was bullied for practically all my school life, right up until I left and even now, at the age of 20, people bully me. Because I'm not the prettiest, funniest, slimmest, etc. It only occurred to me after school how sad and pathetic those bullies were. I mean, how unsatisfying can your life possibly be to pick on someone half your size to make yourself feel better?

So yeah, I get this novel. I really, really do.

This is what happens: Sam Kingston is a bitch. Bottom line, she's one of the big bad bullies in this particular American high school. Although she doesn't throw the first insult, start the first rumour or the first to graffitti the bathroom stalls, she goes along with it just like all her friends do.

And then one evening, she dies. Except the story doesn't end there: consequently, she gets thrown into this kind of Groundhog day thing, where she lives the day of her death over and over, and she slowly comes to the realisation that her actions -- who she was and what she did -- caused her death.

Get this : Juliet Sykes is a 'psycho', 'weirdo', an 'outcast' and the night of Sam's death, she throws herself in front of their car and dies along with Sam. Because of their incessant bullying, she decides to kill herself and, without knowing, kills Sam, the bane of her existent, as well.

You see, Sam slowly realises that she is an awful, horrid bitch and as the day(s) go by, she realises she needs to change something -- she needs to change the outcome, so she can 'move on'.

Wherever that is.

I loved this book, and Lauren Oliver is a beautiful writer. In fact, the voice of Sam and her she-witches are so loud and clear, it was like being transported back to the good old school days all over again.

Each person has an outstanding personality, and no two characters are the same. The fact that Lindsay Edgecombe (Queen Bitch) and Juliet Sykes (Psycho) used to be friends only makes the entire ordeal more interesting.

The novel isn't split into chapters, but seven days. And when the day Sam realises what, exactly, she must do to move on rolls around, there's a sense of finality throughout the whole novel. At first, I thought she was in a coma, and finally doing what was right would wake her up, but alas that was not the case, and she successfully moved on to whatever is next, I guess.

All in all, I give the book four stars. It's new, exciting, sad and so honest that it actually hurts to realise that because of who she was, what she did and who she hung out with, people would feel sorry for her death but internally think, "Bitch got what she deserved." Because no one knew she could change things. No one knew that she was really a good person inside.


So think about that. Think about all those who hurt you and ruined your life and made school a living hell. Think of the nicknames and the shouting and messages scrawled on bathroom mirrors, and the rumours. Think about that and then think about what they're doing now, and what YOU'RE doing now. Have they changed? Have YOU changed?

And just like that you'll understand this novel. This story is about cruelty and bullying and what schools are really like -- these days more than ever. It's the honest, stone cold truth.

It's a truth not many see, or many choose to ignore.

Congratulations, Lauren Oliver, for using your imagination and create something so starkly beautiful like [b:Before I Fall|6482837|Before I Fall|Lauren Oliver|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361044695s/6482837.jpg|6674135]. ( )
  Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
Ignoring the entirely implausible (and unexplained) premise, I liked how Oliver chose to make her protagonist a mean girl. ( )
  IsaboeOfLumatere | Jan 14, 2015 |
Samantha Kingston has died. She knows it. What she doesn't know is why she seems to be reliving the day of her death over and over again. Sam begins to realize though that there may be a purpose to this, and that any small thing she does can change things entirely. Sam learns that there are some things bigger than her, and while she cannot save herself she may be able to help others before she goes.

The beginning of this book was a trial for me to get through. Samantha and her friends are just awful people. They're bullies that pick on the easiest targets. Luckily Sam starts to show some growth before I totally gave up on this book, but man did she drag it out. She became a much more likable person as she stopped trying to label herself and be someone she thought everyone else wanted her to be. As she became her own person, she was much easier to deal with. This also allowed her to learn some things about why she was going through this strange event to begin with.

I appreciate that Sam saw the good in her friends more and more as she went while still recognizing what they did wrong. Ultimately Sam had a lot of good in her, and this was uncovered bit by bit as the story progressed. The ending was satisfying even if you kind of know where it is going. I like that she learned that some things are bigger than her. This was a very interesting book, and it made me think about how I influence people in my life. I don't know if I would say I enjoyed it, but it was a book worth reading. ( )
  l_manning | Jan 14, 2015 |
It's been mentioned a few dozen times before in reviews, but I have to agree..... This is a mix of Mean Girls and Groundhog Day and it's a brilliant mix of the two.

The lead character isn't likeable. She's hateful, but by the end of the book I was cheering her on to succeed in what she was aiming for. What she is aiming for isn't exactly clear in the beginning (not to her and not to us either) and as things start to unravel and fall into place it makes for uncomfortable reading in some places. She (Sam) goes on a journey of self awareness and by the end I was ripping through the pages to see if she could make ammends.

The story spans 7 days and each day has it's own chapter. Each day a little more falls into place and things that made no sense or seemed insignificant the day before take on a much greater meaning when we begin to see the big picture. Sam's seeing the big picture right along with us though and it's bittersweet to see her put things right one day, only to have to start all over again the next day. She takes with her from day to day, the knowledge from the previous day(s) though and it's a steep learning curve for her as she realises that changes need to be made if she's going to get through this.

It wasn't until the very last chapter that I half guessed what her goal was and when the realisation hit me I was desperate for her to succeed and I read into the wee hours just so I could sleep easy as it's impossible not to go over and over and over the events in the book and think how it could turn out differently with different actions....... Which is exactly what Sam is experiencing too and it's wonderful to see her make and re-make the changes that shape each day.

Brilliant book and I highly recommend it. It's the first book in ages that I haven't been able to put down. I just wanted more days and then more days.....poor Sam would have been stuck in a loop forever but I just didn't want it to end......

I wish more books could be as good as this one and I'll definitely look out for more books by this author. I hope there are many, many more to come. ( )
  SilverThistle | Dec 31, 2014 |
Before I Fall is a novel about a teenagerÛªs last day of life, re-experienced seven times.
I enjoy books for different reasons. Sometimes it‰Ûªs the characters, sometimes it‰Ûªs the author‰Ûªs voice, or sometimes it‰Ûªs the story or mood of a work that appeals to me most. Other times I‰Ûªm drawn to a novel because it resonates with something I‰Ûªve studied or learned about writing craft, as with Before I Fall.

In my very first classes on novel writing, I remember learning a useful exercise for writer‰Ûªs block and plot development was to free-write on twenty things that could happen next in a story. The object of this exercise is to let yourself go and quickly, without too much self-editing, write down 20 different scenarios of what could happen next in a story. Then you think about these ideas, maybe float them with your critique group, and usually the next scenes in the novel will come to you. I found myself thinking that Before I Fall was an ingenious exploitation of just this concept. The entire novel is seven different scenarios of one day. Because the day is when the protagonist dies, strong conflict and tension is almost built in to the story--as a reader you want her to accomplish what she needs to before the day ends.

So besides good conflict and plot, another element of successful novels is a clear character arc. You want to see the main character change or show growth in some way. Again, the format of the story lends itself to character development, and is really well done in Before I Fall. Lauren Oliver makes an unsympathetic character grow more likable and compassionate as the Sam Kingston‰Ûªs ability to comprehend the consequences of her actions progresses over the story timeline.

In addition to the way the story concept handily addresses important novel writing elements, the most enjoyable part of the writing for me was the well drawn friendships between the group of girlfriends, especially Lindsay and Sam. There was an ‰ÛÏunconditional love‰Û quality about their friendship that I think true friendships have.

Some minor drawbacks to the story are its length (probably just a bit too long at 480 pages, although I did manage to finish it within a couple of weeks) and its romance, which felt a little flat for me towards the end. However, I think the book is probably more about friendship than romance, even though the inciting incident happens on the day Sam is supposed to lose her virginity.

Four stars for Before I Fall and kudos to Oliver for the clever way she makes putting together important craft elements look easy.
( )
  JeaniaK | Dec 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
Although somewhat predictable, the plot drives forward and teens will want to see where Sam's choices lead.
added by khuggard | editSchool Library Journal, Amy J. Chow
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lauren Oliverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drew, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In loving memory of Semon Emil Knudsen
Peter: Thank you for giving me some of my greatest hits. I miss you.
First words
Prologue:

They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me.
One

"Beep beep", Lindsay calls out.
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''Here's one of the things I learned that morning: if you cross a line and nothing happens, the line loses meaning.''
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Book description
What if you had only 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 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.
Haiku summary
It's like Groundhog Day

for young women- in book form

with a sad ending.

(Eskimo_Kissez)

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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.

(summary from another edition)

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