Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a stunning story of redemption at a cost, where Samantha Kingston must live the last day of her life over and over again, Groundhog’s Day style, until she gets the sequence right. Before I Fall is one of those books I use to convert people to YA. I loaned my copy to my sister who said she “fucking loved it” and then she loaned it to all her friends. Before I Fall definitely made it’s rounds. It’s been over a year since I read Lauren Oliver’s debut, but it still lingers in my memory.
Sam Kingston is a member of the Regina George clique in her school. Her friends are literally at the top of the social ladder and there is no sugar coating from Oliver. These girls are real. I went to high school with them and simultaneously hated them and wanted to be them. Maybe you did too.
As someone who was a teen not too long ago, I can say Lauren Oliver is pitch perfect in voice and authenticity. The girls are bitchy. Yet, they also care for each other and their families. They are neither drawn as perfect heroines nor as one dimensional bullies. The dialogue never feels hokey or like an adult trying to be with it and hip. What comes out of Lindsey, Elodie, and Sam’s mouth sounds like what I would hear in the hallways of a high school in Anywhere, USA.
The plot is absolutely compelling. Will Sam get it right on her last day? Will she end up with Kent of the weird hats? Every action and scenario has consequences as soon in Before I Fall. Lauren Oliver’s debut is heart breaking and impossible to set down. I can only hope that Oliver returns to contemporary young adult literature, because although I loved her dystopia, Delirium, I think that her contemporary voice is heart-piercing.
Disclosure: Purchased copy.