Sunday, February 12, 2012

Before I Fall

Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver

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. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Here are two things you should know: 1) I don't read realistic fiction. 2) I hate, hate, hate stories (in book form, TV shows, movies) that show the same events over and over from various perspectives, or in a "what if this one teensys detail had changed?" sorts of ways.

Having gotten those out of the way, I can tell you that even though this book was both of those, I LOVED it. I can't honestly say why it was so gripping. I mean, if you broke it down, probably 30% of this pretty long book consists of a fairly bitchy girl drinking coffee in an SUV with her fairly bitchy friends. And most of the rest of it is her taking high school classes, not quite fighting with her boyfriend, and attending the same drunken party. On paper, what's to like?

As it turns out, lots. It's a fantastic character study, a really honest look at teenage life that rings entirely true (at least to someone who left high school a few years ago). In a completely non-preachy/judgemental way, this book finds ways to discuss popularity, cliques, social pressures, growing up, identity, friendship, relationships.... I could go on and on, but that would probably make the book seem much duller than it is.

In any case, Samantha's journey is, at various times, frustrating, funny, heartbreaking, romantic, terrifying and triumphant. If you were a popular kid, a geek, or even an "average" kid in high school, this book will stick with you for a long time.


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