Before I Fall Book Review
Before I Fall
Before I Fall is a 2010 young adult novel written by Lauren Oliver. The novel's main protagonist is Samantha Kingston. She's a 17-year old girl who is stuck in a time-loop after a tragic accident. The book focuses on the theme of adolescence and choice. It's first-person narrative gives the reader an in-depth, personal look at her life and experiences.
Right off the back, the book throws the reader headfirst into the life of its characters. Samantha and her friends are your stereotypical high school seniors. They are selfish and lack empathy for others. The school setting will remind readers of the immaturities and annoyances of high school. Admittedly, the first part of the book is a tough read. Not only because of its one-dimensional characters but because of the book's high school jargon.
For most of the read, the characters introduced are teenagers. Like I said before, Samantha Kingston is the protagonist but her friends are also an important part of the story. She spends a huge amount of the narrative talking about her friends and what they mean to her. Lindsay Edgecombe, is the leader of the pack and garners the most respect from everyone. Her dominant personality and experience makes her the natural leader of her friends. Ally Harris and Elody don't particularly stick out or do anything different to set themselves apart. Even when details of their past surfaces, they are still in the background. They will follow whomever in the group is the strongest. They are loyal—to a fault.
The narrative's main focus is Samantha and how her choices affect her. Her choices are very important as they have the power to alter the narrative at any time. When one day is over, Samantha takes a moment to talk to the reader and reflect. At times, she even gains insight. After, we go into the next day and she tries again. There are times when she becomes discouraged but continues either way. This feeling of hope keeps the reader interested and engaged. If there is something she didn't do right (no matter how small), she corrects it the next day and so on. The novel avoids repetition with inserts of Samantha's narration between a set amount of chapters. Her narration helps move the plot along as well.
The book's first-person narration lends itself to a interesting dynamic. The author takes advantage of this style when she vividly describes what the character is feeling. The despair when she fails to change another day. The happiness she feels when she's with her family. The fun she's having when she's with her friends. All these moments, in all its detail, explained for the reader. These moments, good or bad, make for a fantastic read. We are also given access to her thoughts. And her deepest secrets. Eventually, nothing is hidden from the reader—even the secrets of other characters. Largely, the reader is given every opportunity to be involved in the story. However, much he or she wants to be.
The novel is not by any means an optimistic read. Thankfully, pessimism isn't its main focus. The feeling of despair is intercepted by numerous moments of fun and bliss. This is high school after all, you take the good with the bad. Also, what the book does best is describe death in a way that is not negative. The author also makes an effort to push life lessons: cherish your friends, cherish your family, and it's okay to make mistakes. As long as you grow from them. After all, what better place to learn—than in high school?