Then all of a sudden there's a flash of white in front of the car. Lindsay yells something--words I can't make out ... suddenly the car is flipping off the road and into the black mouth of the woods. I hear a horrible, screeching sound--metal on metal, glass shattering, a car folding in two--and smell fire. I have time to wonder whether Lindsay had put out her cigarette--
That's when it happens. The moment of death is full of heat and sound and pain bigger than anything, a funnel of burning heat splitting me in two, something searing and scorching and tearing, and if screaming were a feeling it would be this.
from page 80
Before I Fall is the heart wrenching debut novel by Lauren Oliver. I first read about it in BookPage, and then looked it up on Amazon for more information. Recently one of the county libraries acquired a copy and I put a reserve in for it and was surprised at the thickness of the book when it arrived. It has some heft to it.
Samantha has it all: three great best friends, a cute boyfriend, good grades, a nice family and hard won popularity in school. One night there's a party where they've been drinking and where there's a been a bewildering, disturbing and upsetting confrontation between her friends and Juliet Sykes, a girl they've cruelly dubbed "Psycho" and ostracized at school. On the way home Samantha and her friends, Lindsay, Ally, and Elody, get into a horrific car wreck in which Samantha dies a hot and painful death. The next morning she wakes up in her bedroom convinced it's all been a really bad dream until she realizes it's still Friday, February 12, and she still has the rest of the day to get through before she dies again.
In seven chapters the following seven days unspool a mystery surrounding the circumstances that led up to her death. Can Samantha change her last day enough to alter her fate? Or is she doomed to die young? And why has she been given this chance to relive her last day over seven times?
As Samantha's mysterious week unfolds she realizes the ripple effects that each change and event of the day elicits and a picture emerges--an unflattering one of the popular crowd and how they treat others on the outside of their circle. It's revealed that even the popular girls have their own secrets about which they do not speak, not even among themselves.
The book explores the effects the popular crowd has on the school environment and the little cruelties that build up into a mountain of hurt in a teen's life--a mountain that seems insurmountable. It is also an extremely, poignantly beautiful coming of age story for Samantha, who has only a week to do what others get a lifetime of chances for.
I highly recommend you pick up this book.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie