Before I Fall
|February 14, 2010|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
From the bookjacket:
"Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day 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."
On page 1 of the novel, we learn that the protagonist, 17-year-old Samantha "Sam" Kingston, is killed in a car accident in her hometown of Ridgeview, Connecticut. She vividly describes her horrifying and painful death, and what flashes through her mind in those final seconds. However, she wakes up the following morning in bed, heart pounding and bathed in sweat, with the memory of her demise still fresh in her mind. Gradually, she realizes that for some reason, she is fated to relive the last day of her life, Friday, February 12, over and over, until she gets things right. Throughout the week, Samantha, who seemingly had it all - popularity, an oft-desired boyfriend, and surface-level happiness - must examine what's really important in her "Mean Girls" life, in which she and her snobby, wealthy friends - Lindsay (the ringleader), Ally and Elody - made life miserable for underclassmen and social misfits, a life in which all that seems to matter is social status, clothes, boys, drinking and sex. Furthermore, through this "Groundhog Day" phenomenon, Sam experiences all five stages of grief; denial (this can't be happening) is seen as she tries to evade her fate; she gets angry and rebels, lashing out at her friends (particularly Lindsay) and hanging out with students she would never dare be seen speaking with; she bargains with God, or fate, believing that if she can make things right, she can save her own life; depression, in which she feels that nothing even matters and wherein she begins acting uncharacteristically recklessly (stealing her mother's credit card, making a pass at a teacher, flashing a carful of college boys, etc.); and finally, acceptance. The Sam who accepts her death - but only if she's able to save the life of her friends' prime target - is a very different character from the girl on the first page on the book.
When Sam saves Juliet and sacrifices herself, this heroic act causes her to stop reliving that Friday and finally cross over.
The theme of this novel is that you have to live your life to the fullest without having any regrets, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow or in the next five minutes.
others and to know that your actions, no matter how insignificant they may seem, can have lasting consequences on both yourself and others.
The novel mentions many cultural references, including: Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama," Jay-Z's "99 Problems," Dr. Dre, Tupac, "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot, Madonna's "Like a Prayer," "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, Dujeous, Chinese Laundry, TCBY, Captain Crunch cereal, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Nike, New Balance, North Face, Dolce Vita shoes, Apple (iPod), Gucci, MAC makeup, Bebe, Neiman Marcus, Victoria's Secret (and PINK), The Body Shop, Dave & Buster's, Harry Potter, Burberry, Range Rover, BMW, Honda Civic, VW Jetta, Charlie's Angels, messenger bags, Trident gum, Altoids, SweetTarts, Glamour magazine, Scarlett Johansson, Annie (the musical), The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, McDonald's, Hallmark, M.C. Escher, Moby-Dick, Macbeth, Miller Lite, Diet Coke, Tiffany's.
Reviews for Before I Fall have been positive, with RT Book Reviews giving the book 4 1/2 stars and nominating it for their 2010 "Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel". Kirkus Reviews called the novel "Unexpectedly rich". The School Library Journal wrote that although the book was "somewhat predictable, the plot drives forward and teens will want to see where Sam's choices lead".
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- Before I Fall Publishers Weekly
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- Before I Fall Kirkus Reviews
- Grades 5 & Up School Library Journal