Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver was my pick for the YA Teacher Readers book club because of the glowing reviews it received, mostly from fans of Thirteen Reasons Why. I wasn't too sure how the teachers would receive the book, or how I would for that matter, by at the meeting it received raved reviews from those who attended. The number one word used to describe it - interesting.
I think the one thing that speaks to us as readers is the fact that we root for Samantha Kingston, no matter what the ultimate outcome. She's been a part of the "queen bee" group in high school and because of this affiliation, she loses her life at the opening of the novel. Oliver then has us relive Samantha's final day on Earth not just once, but seven times. Each day Samantha awakens to discover she is reliving that day again. What can break the cycle? How can she move forward into the afterlife? It is not until the end of day 6 that Samantha realizes what she needs to do, what she must do, and the reader is left thinking, "Don't do it."
While the reliving the day over and over again mirrors Groundhog Day, the plot is anything but. Each of those days is cleverly woven to give the reader a new revelation, one that helps connect the puzzle pieces from day one. To me that is the true craft of the novel - how all things really are connected, whether we realize it or not. Oliver has created a page-turner with Before I Fall, one that will leave its impression on readers long after the book is complete and added to the shelf. I have just one complaint: I felt that seven days was too long. I really feel that one of those days could have been cut and the book would still have been amazing. BUT, seven is a nice number - a week for Samantha to discover the truth about her self, her friends, and life in general.
Before I Fall - add it to your mound! If you do not have time to read this novel, you must go to your local library and check it out on audio - it is that good! I did not read this novel; I listened to it. The reader was amazing, and I feel that it heightened my experience with the novel.