What if you only had 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: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times 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.
People change, slowly but surely. Sam did. All it took was one helluva eye-opening experience– or eye-closing, depending on how you want to look at it. Still, the truth of the matter abides that Sam did remedy her faults, learn from her mistakes, kiss the right boy, and tie up her assorted variety of loose ends. Did this final relived day make a lasting difference? Was it even the alternative reality that actually occurred? We’ll never know. It doesn’t matter. It’s good to have a slight bit of faith restored in humanity, regardless.
Before I Fall isn’t read for the destination– which was made glaringly plain on page one– but for the journey. Lyrical and resounding, Ms. Oliver wrote to overwhelm with simplicity. On her voyage from high school mean girl to unlikely philanthropist, Samantha Kingston succeeds to impact us not out of wisdom, but wonder. To exalt the quotidian became natural, and her everyday musings reverberated within us, purple prose without the meticulous and flowery planning. If Lauren Oliver were to write her own Deep Thoughts, I would assuredly be the first to buy it.
Unlike so many other reviewers, this book didn’t “take me back to high school.” No, unfortunately I’m still living that nightmare. Appropriately, Sam and & co. do bear a startling resemblance to some girls I know. Nonetheless, I never hated Sam or the other mean girls; I sympathized with them from the beginning. I love them all, even Lindsay, probably for their faults and vulnerabilities more than anything else. They were nasty, yes, but also insecure, superficial, selfish, spiteful– human.
Even in the novel’s final chapters, Sam was no angel. Preoccupied with silly romances and trivial revenge, she probably wouldn’t have been named a saint had she relived February 12th three hundred and sixty-five times. However, I relished in Sam’s frivolities; they drove the novel’s message home. I don’t mind dramatizing every day’s occurrence if that’s what it means to live, and I applaud the depth Oliver lent to characterization in this regard.
I should like to smell a thousand roses for the sake of Samantha Kingston.
Before I Fall, beautiful and silent, will forever go down in history as the first contemporary novel unrelated to cancer to make me cry. And yes, it is significantly better than If I Stay, the only novel to which I’ve ever heard it be compared.
Also: I’m meeting Lauren Oliver when she comes to Ottawa later this month. I can’t wait!
I’ll keep you posted,