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An Unofficial Book Review

September 24, 2010

Everyone knows I love a good book. To me, nothing is better than reading a book that takes you out of this world and into the one you’re reading. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is one of those books. After hearing the author read an excerpt at the Brooklyn Book Festival, I knew I had to buy it – even though it meant buying the book for full price (at least my copy was personally autographed).

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: Samantha Kingston, a.k.a. Sam, is a senior in high school and one of the popular girls. She and her friends have it all, so to speak, including stuck-up mean girl attitudes. One night while leaving a party, Sam and her friends get into an accident and Sam dies. Afterward, Sam wakes up and realizes that she’s reliving the same day she died – and keeps reliving it over and over again. Since Sam is the only one who knows whats going on, she tries to figure out how make things right once and for all so she can make peace and stop reliving the same day.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book (excluding the guilty pleasure Twilight saga), and I wasn’t sure if I wanted this to be my next read, so it sat on my bookshelf for almost two weeks. When I finally started reading, I’m not gonna lie, I hated it. I couldn’t stand Sam’s character – I thought she was vapid, insecure and a pushover. But then I realized that that’s how it is in high school; how quickly I had forgotten. As I kept reading and Sam kept doing things over, I seriously began empathizing with her and really wanted her to get things right.

The author has a way with words that makes high school experiences seem beautiful and something to envy. I was so deeply drawn in by the story that I found myself getting goosebumps more than once while reading it – it was THAT good. I have to say, though, reading this book made me wonder if it’s possible to still enjoy a story if the main character is unlikeable. Before this book, I would have said no; I admit that I can’t separate my feelings between characters and the actual story. However, Sam’s progression throughout the story made it impossible to stop reading and the author’s hauntingly stunning images made me stop and analyze how this book relates to my life – both my high school years as well as my current experiences.

I finished this book feeling nostalgic and began reminiscing about my high school memories. I remember thinking that nothing else mattered or was more important than at that exact moment. Everything was “life or death” and instant gratification was the only way to go. Now, looking back, it all seems so silly, but to be able to live in that kind of bubble is actually somewhat admirable. Now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser?), life experience have unfortunately made me jaded and I know there’s a part of my youth that I will never be able to get back.

I do know one thing, though – despite reminiscing about my high school days, I’m glad I don’t have to go through them all over again. All that drama… thinking about it makes me shudder. Glad to know I’m not the only one, either.

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