Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Meet Samantha “Sam” Kingsley.  She’s popular, she’s pretty, she has “the guy” and she has the friends who back her up.  She’s the girl in high school you wish you were, and if you couldn’t be her, it would be really nice for her to know you.  Knowing Samantha….  meant you were in.

Now when I said meet Samantha, I mean do it now.  Because life for Samantha is about to change drastically.  In fact… I think it is safe to say without spoiling anything – that Sam’s life is about to stop… and in a flash of a few words – Sam’s life is over.

Or is it?

It seems that for some freakish reason – Sam keeps waking up to that last day.  The alarm ringing at the same time… her little sister comes rushing in to greet her… her friend Lindsey waiting impatiently outside to driver her to school.   And what starts out as what seems to be a second chance to change things to save herself… becomes something so much more.

◊     ◊     ◊     ◊     ◊

Ok … let me be honest.  I met Lauren Oliver in New York when I was there in May and enjoyed talking to her about her writing and this book.  While I loved the thought and the idea behind the book I really didn’t know if it was one I would enjoy and with so many “bookortunities” at BEA, I passed this one up.

So now you are scratching your head and thinking, “But Sheila… you are reviewing it.  What changed?”

Thank you for asking.  There were a couple of factors.  One was Reagan at Miss Remmer’s Reviews. She was on Twitter gushing about this book.  G-U-S-H-I-N-G.   It was annoying.  😉  She was one of my roommates while in New York.  She knew I passed on the book.  She should stop the gushing.  STOP IT!  Secondly, it was Jay Asher.  Jay is the author of Thirteen Reasons Why.  Which, honestly?  Blew me away.  I read it.  I reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why (with “gushsto” – yes, my word) and then I interviewed him.  Jay Asher is the author quote on the front of Before I Fall and he says, “You’ll have no choice but to tear through this book!”

So between Reagan and Jay… merely days after I returned from New York with loads of books traveling my way by UPS, Fed Ex, and the post office….  I made my way to our local book store and purchased this book.

When I started reading it I still wasn’t sure.   As I said, the book breaks in to the same day, again and again.  Seven times to be exact.  And the first couple times I wasn’t seeing the point.  The characters were developed well and I could picture the scenario…. but what was the benefit of rewriting the same day over and over?

And then things changed.  Samantha changed.  And a light bulb went off for me.  Each day Sam relived again…. she was different.  She went through all the phases of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.

I’ve never really thought about it before but it is a miracle how many kinds of light there is in the world, how many skies: the brightness of spring, when it feels like the whole world is blushing; the lush, bright boldness of a July noon; purple storm skies and a green queasiness just before lightning strikes…

~page 187

Sam grieves.  For what was lost, for what could have been, for what she had and didn’t realize… she grieves.

I stayed up late into the night, and was up early the next morning and finished the last pages in bed, refusing to get until I knew how it all ended.   There is so much more I would like to share about what this book brought up in me… but to have that conversation, you will need to read the book.  When you are done, pop back this way and join me on the Spoiler Page.

Amazon Rating

Book Journeys map has been updated to include Before I Fall

When in Connecticut, make a stop at The Vanilla Bean, rated one of the top three coffee stops in Connecticut.

480 pages

Cover Story:  The first time I seen it, I was unsure if I liked it.  Although it works well with the book, and it definitely  is noticeable, I am still not sure if it is the best fit for this book.

me and Lauren Oliver

I purchased my copy of this book at Bookworld in Brainerd, MN

Other thoughts:

One thing I would like to share is this book made me think of near misses in my life.  One instance that comes to mind is back when I was 16.  My best friend Traci and I were in my car.  It was nighttime and winter, and we were cutting it close to making curfew.  I was speeding down a back road trying to get us home on time.  I even remember what was playing in the car – Prince:  I Would Die For You.  We were belting this out at the top of our lungs… young  and invincible.

The main highway came up faster than I had anticipated and as we rounded a corner the stop sign was there and I hit my breaks.   The road we were on was ice-covered and I went into a slide heading straight through the stop sign.  A semi went by inches ahead of us as I Dukes of Hazard style hit the highway and launched over 4 lanes of traffic into the ditch on the other side.  Hearts pounding we couldn’t believe we were alive.

Through the years, Traci and I have referred to that story.   I sometimes wonder why I survived that and am content in knowing it wasn’t my time and there are other plans for me.  This is one instance.  I have others.  If you think about it you probably do too.

42 thoughts on “Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

  1. Sheila, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book. It’s on my list to read at some point. Your story at the end was chilling. Like you said, it wasn’t your time. God had something else in mind for you and here you are. We’re glad.

    1. Kay, I still think about that day – mainly I think about my mom and what that would have done to her if that ridiculous night all those years ago had turned out badly.

      This book made me think of that….

    1. Laurel – the book mentions Ground Hogs day in it…LOL It is kind of like that where Sam is trying to get things right, but there is more of a message in this one, and is certainly not comedy. 🙂

  2. I would have passed on this one, too. I’ve read several reviews and thought “nice, but not for me.” But you’ve convinced me to pick it up.

    As for that close call, you have done so many wonderful things with your life since that night. Clearly God had plans for you!

  3. Sheila, that reminds me of my own near-death accident at 22 with a crazy speeding male driver, sliding off the road at 80 miles an hour and coming *this close* to hitting a tree. How did we not die just now?

    Thank you, God.

    Thank you, Sheila. It’s good to remember things like that every so often.

    1. Isn’t that wild Lynne? You gave me chills when I read your comment. I think of things that have happened in life since that moment and think well, if I would have died then – this would not have happened…. I wouldn’t have had my kids, or married for that fact, I would have never led teams to Honduras, or cultivated the relationships that I have, I wouldn’t be talking books….

      Who knows why? I hope to someday look back on my life and be able to pinpoint some awesome life changing moments where I can say – that is why…. 🙂

      1. There are probably more “close calls” than we know about but that were prevented from happening for a reason; it’s just the obvious close calls like yours and mine that happen to remind us to be thankful and that life is precious.

        I do the same thing as you with circumstances in my life…If I hadn’t moved to Missouri with my mom then I wouldn’t have met my husband, I wouldn’t have my son, etc.

        To me, life is purposely and purposefully directed and not just happenstance. 🙂

  4. So happy that you liked this book, as it’s one of my new favorites! Yea for Reagan and her gushing! And I agree that it really makes you think. Plus, Lauren is just so adorable and talented that I’ll probably read everything she writes from here on out!

    So glad that you survived your Dukes of Hazzard moment! I’ve never had one of those, but have survived a few other close calls. Guess if it’s not your time, it’s just not your time (knock wood).

  5. Okay I have to admit, up front, that I completely skimmed this, trying not to get too much info about the book, because I’m supposed to read it with my book club in two months!

  6. Nice review. I bought this one awhile ago, but still need to read it. I really want to though.

    Oh, and I sent you an email with your Swap Partner info but I got a message from your partner just now saying she hasn’t heard from you so please look for that or email me for her email!

    1. Thanks shootingstarmag! I did see the email and I have been so crazy busy this week I have hardly responded to anything – my bad. I will take care of it. 🙂

  7. Funny, I thought of you when I heard about this book on the news. A teenage girl in northeastern PA was killed recently in a boating accident which also critically injured her father and her brother. She was an avid reader and library patron, and after her death the librarian told the media the girl had this book on order. Now it is one of the most popular books around here, and everyone is marveling at the coincidence of her ordering that book just before she died.

  8. I am glad you enjoyed the book Sheila:) I think I am to old or something. I just hated this book. I really didn’t see it the way others did. Maybe my brain is just wired weird, lol. I am glad though that you enjoyed it and your review shined a new light on it.

    1. Bobbie – different books speak to us differently. I didn’t like how it started, it took a bit to get into the rhythm but I did end up enjoying it.

      (I do that too see a review on a book that I didn’t really like and see someone else gush about it and wonder what I missed) LOL

  9. I too loved this book and although I was unsure about the reliving the day over and over I found I liked it. I liked seeing how one little teeny tiny choice can affect the entire day and what occurs in that day.
    I’m glad you decided to read this book, totally worth it, huh? I can’t wait to read more of Lauren Oliver and look forward to her next book.

  10. The premise alone is a great one, I feel! I don’t watch many movies, but I enjoyed “The Butterfly Effect” which has somewhat of the same premise (although I wasn’t fond of “Groundhog Day”) … this is going into my must-buy list, as I’m sure that both myself and my Not-So-Bebe Girl Autumn would totally love it.

    And I’m very sad that as a new book blogger, I knew NOTHING NOTHING about BEA, but I’m saving my pennies, because I really really really want to go next year!!

    1. Julie I hope you do pick this book up and that you do enjoy it.

      Last year at this time I was a new blogger and I didnt know what BEA was either. I can tell you this for sure – if you can go, make sure you go. It was AMAZING!

  11. Sheila I’m in Day 5 in this book, I really wanted to like this book but I’m struggling to read on. I certainly don’t dislike it but it’s just long.

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