"Before I Fall" by Lauren Oliver
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 480 pages
I'm usually picky about books when it comes to first time authors, but something about the description on the jacketflap caught the attention of my muse and I had to buy this book. And now I'm very glad I did!
This is the story of Sam(antha), a spoiled little rich girl who has never wanted for anything. We get to know Sam and her snobby, spoiled friends at the beginning of the story and you have to be patient as you are introduced to them because I instantly hated them all. Just when you think you've had enough of them, they end up being in a deadly crash. But this is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning.
Oliver's debut novel is a frank and full of teenage insights and startling candidness. At times the story gives you a brutal look at high school social circles, complete with the careless cruelties and bullying that occurs on a daily basis.
Sam is one of the mean girls - or at least, she runs with the mean crowd. They all think they are better than everyone else, but even with the complex and carefully plotted events, Oliver has peeled back the layers of these girls' lives and taught us that every little deed has a consequence. Through a series of events, like Groundhog Day, Sam will live the same day over and over until she can set events in her life to order.
Sam is in the "in-crowd" and likes it there. She's part of the group that mistreats all the other "nobodies" at her school and is proud of it. Sam is not a likable character at the beginning of the novel, but as her character is revealed and we learn a few things she has done in her life that morphs her into a true, selfless, and caring heroine, despite her many flaws. Watching this spoiled girl realize how wrong she has been is satisfying, and seeing her struggle to become a better person with only one day was spellbinding. Wondering how she is going to changed things makes you not want to put this book down (hence the reason I read it in one sitting!).
I won't spoil what occurs in the book, but I should warn you that this book is not meant for the younger crowd. Oliver paints a realistic picture of teen youth, including alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and peer pressure.
"Before I Fall" is a haunting and beautiful book and it will remain on your mind long after you turn the last page.