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Monday, 17 May 2010

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: From Amazon
They say that when you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me
Sam Kingston is dead. Except she isn't.
On a rainy February night, eighteen-year-old Sam is killed in a horrific car crash. But then the impossible happens: she wakes up in her own bed, on the morning of the day that she died.
Forced to live over and over the last day of her life the drive to school, skipping class, the fateful party she desperately struggles to alter the outcome, but every morning she wakes up on the day of the crash.
This is a story of a girl who dies young, but in the process learns how to live. And who falls in love... a little too late.

At the beginning of this book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Written in 1st person narrative, Sam starts of as unlikeable; popular by association basing her actions and preferences on being accepted by the 'in' crowd. Peer pressure is an incredibly powerful thing and shown in all its *glory* in this story, the I felt as if Sam had no personality of her own, for all intents and purposes she was a sheep. And then she died.

Initially, I thought it was like an emotional Groundhog day (which is even mentioned within the narrative). However, as I relived each last day with Sam I really felt for her. Sam's fear of dying was palpable within the narrative. Very, very powerful writing. I felt as if I was there with her every step of the way. Imagine reliving the day you die over and over again, knowing that it is inevitable; that here is nothing you can do to stop it from happening. Knowing the exact time, place and circumstance of your own death. How frightened would you be as the minutes ticked away.

As Sam relives the same day over and over, we are exposed to the 5 stages of grief, (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance). Sam is grieving for herself not only for the life that she has yet to live but for the mistakes she has made so far.

Getting the opportunity to repeat the same day gives Sam a chance to rectify some of the mistakes she has made. The opportunity to see people in a different light, to say the things she always wanted to say but never felt it was the right time and to be the person she really wanted to be rather than conforming. Sam gains a whole new perspective and discovers true love in the process.

All the characters were well developed and almost 3 dimensional, there personalities and interactions were so real to me I felt I was there right along with Sam. I could relate to all of them in one way or another. The narrative incorporates a lot of sensitive issues such as substance abuse, sex and eating disorders; issues although not dealt with in depth reflect the inner turmoil people suffer while projecting a very different outward image. The saying 'never judge a book by it's cover' strongly applies to the characters within this book.

I finished reading this book very late in the night; I went to sleep thinking about it and woke up the next morning still thinking about it. Is is one of those haunting stories that stays with you. For me it was an emotional roller-coaster. I felt as if I had been swallowed whole, chewed up into one big gloppy mess and then spat back out. I have to admit to absolutely sobbing my heart out while reading this one (not the usual silent tears but the gasping, sniffing type of sobbing). It really is an amazing book, you will need a lot of tissues.
The BookDepository


  1. I adored this book and love the development of Sam's character throughout the book. Great review!

  2. Fabulous review! This was such a fantastic debut. I CANNOT wait for Oliver's dystopian novel to come out!

  3. Whoa. Lauren Oliver has a dystopian novel coming out?! Ooh.


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