Saturday, November 19, 2011

Before I Fall

Rating: 5 out of 5 Last Kisses
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: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day 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. (From

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. Lauren Oliver delivered with Delirium which was one of my favorite books this year, but the synopsis of Before I Fall seemed like there wasn't much to be done with it. And with the length of the book I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. Much to my surprise, Oliver got me hooked right from the get-go.

Oliver writes beautifully and voraciously. I wish I had an ounce of her skill with imagery. She manages to build characters little by little. A master of show-don't-tell, Lauren Oliver's book is a study in relationships and the human experience. At first you find yourself hating the protagonist. Samantha Kingston is a brat. She demeans her peers just to be accepted by her best friends. Oliver has certainly caught the flavor of high school life with all its cliques and hoops and idiosyncrasies. At times, it does have a little cliche to it: the popular girl dating the most popular jock. However, Oliver uses her somewhat crazy storyline and her bratty protagonist to bust through those cliches until you are left with a story that is a breath of fresh air. 

I think my favorite part about this book is the message it leaves behind. The fact that this is YA fiction makes me cheer because our young people need to learn this lesson! I found that the book left me haunted by the questions it forced me to ask myself, such as: Am I a good person? What would I do if today were my last day? If it isn't all about me, then who is it about? What will people say about me when I die?

We are left with a glimmer of hope at the end. Hope that Sam Kingston made a difference and that we, too, can start today and change things in our own lives. It's amazing how books can come along and apply to exactly what you are going through during that time. Maybe that is why I soaked this one in like a sponge; I've been needing to learn what Sam Kingston's story needed to teach me. 

By the end I love Sam Kingston, and I was rooting for her to make the necessary changes. The story keeps you guessing all throughout which just shows there is a master at work behind the pages. I won't spoil the ending for you. Instead you should go out and read this book. Your life will be all the better for it.

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