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