Next month is the
Austin Texas Teen Book Festival. I went last year, because I’m a huge book nerd, and even though I’m almost 25, it’s okay because I still look like a teenager, and there were plenty of other adults at the festival last year (many without kids). I had such a blast, and I really want to go this year, but we’ll see if I’ll actually be able to make it.
In the meantime, I’m trying to read books by authors that will be there. The only authors I’ve read books by are James Dashner, Scott Westerfeld, Gayle Foreman, and now, Lauren Oliver. Those four authors alone are enough to entice me to want to attend the book festival. Last year, I really only went to meet Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Siobhan Vivian, but I ended up falling in love with so many other authors and other books as well. If I get to attend this summer, I’m hoping to do the same thing. So I picked up this book because it was by one of the TTBF authors. It was actually her debut book.
Before I Fall tells the story of Samantha Kingston, one of the most popular seniors at her high school. She’s been waiting all year for Cupid Day, one of her favorite days of the year. It gives her the opportunity to collect as many roses as possible and show off how many people love her. Too bad Cupid Day ends up being the day she dies.
When she wakes up on what she thinks is the day after Cupid Day, she finds that it is, in fact, still Cupid Day. She’s reliving the same day over again and again and again. Seven times to be exact. Each time she lives through the day, she learns that making even the slightest change can have a huge impact.
Here’s the book trailer:
It took me until about day four or five to even like Samantha. One of the reasons I’m so attracted to YA is that most of the books tell stories of misfits who end up proving themselves. It’s rare for me to get attached to a character like Sam who is already popular and is pretty spoiled, bratty and self-centered. The first few times that she relives Cupid Day, I was really frustrated. In a lot of ways, she was just a mean person, and when she came to realize that she could just wake up the next day and have everything erased, she started becoming reckless and even more self-absorbed. I felt like some of the things she did would have been excusable if she was a high school freshman or sophomore, but she was a senior, and she was more immature than I would have liked through the first half of the novel.
Eventually, a light bulb goes off, and she starts to make decisions that made me smile. She started analyzing who the important people were in her life and trying to set things right with them, particularly her family and an old friend that she and everyone else has done nothing but make fun of for several years. Once she lives through the same day a few times, there’s so much character growth, and I started to like Sam.
One thing I love about this book is that it’s chockful of amazing quotes like:
“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”
“So many things become beautiful when you really look.”
“That’s when I realized that certain moments go on forever. Even after they’re over they still go on, even after you’re dead and buried, those moments are lasting still, backward and forward, on into infinity. They are everything and everywhere all at once. They are the meaning.”
It’s amazing how much a book about death makes you think about how you’re living your life. This fiction YA novel definitely put a few things into perspective for me, and I love going through all of the Goodreads quotes and reliving bits and parts of the books.
I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. The main thing I was turned off by was Sam’s character in the beginning. Part of me wanted to stop reading because of the distaste I had for her, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because she ended up redeeming herself. This was a great first novel by Lauren Oliver, and I can’t wait to read more by her!