Before I Fall
|February 14, 2010|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
Before I Fall is a 2010 young adult novel written by Lauren Oliver. It is written in first-person narrative of a teenager who is forced to relive the day of her death every day for a week. In an attempt to understand why this is happening to her, as well as trying to change her fate, she takes new actions each day, some of which are out of character and surprise her family and friends. The book is the basis for the film of the same name released on March 3, 2017.
The novel begins on a seemingly normal day for the protagonist, popular 17-year-old Samantha "Sam" Kingston. On February 12, known as “Cupid’s Day,” Sam carries out the day like normal with her three best friends, Elody, Lindsay, and Ally. That night, she attends the party of Kent McFuller, an unpopular boy at their high school who used to be her best friend, but whom Sam now treats badly despite them both knowing he has feelings for her. Sam was supposed to have sex that night with her boyfriend Rob, but he’s too drunk. Juliet Sykes, a girl who’s bullied by Sam and her friends, shows up at the party and calls Sam and her friends “bitches,” who react by pouring alcoholic beverages on her, calling her names, and shoving her around. Juliet runs out of the house. Later that night, Sam and her friends are driving home when, at 12:39AM, there’s a “flash of white” and the car veers off the road and crashes into a tree. Sam is killed.
Sam wakes up and is confused to find that it is still February 12, and the day has magically restarted. She goes through the day in a confused fog, watching the same events repeat themselves. That night, upon driving home, Sam warns Lindsay, who’s driving, to be careful. Lindsay shrugs her off. Sam watches as the car’s clock turns to 12:39. They crash, and she dies.
Sam wakes up on February 12 again and feigns an illness, showing up to school late. She does a lot of things differently, finding out things about various people she knows. That night, she convinces her friends to ditch Kent’s party and have a sleepover. They wake up in the middle of the night to news that Juliet committed suicide. Upon showing up to the party and realizing Sam and her friends weren’t there, Juliet went back home and shot herself in her room. When Elody and Ally worry aloud that it was partially their fault, Lindsay, who led the bullying efforts toward Juliet for years, shuts them down by being indifferent towards what happened. Elody and Ally, disgusted, leave the basement to sleep upstairs. Sam goes through Lindsay’s things and finds that she and Juliet were best friends when they were little, but the friendship abruptly ended in fifth grade, right when Lindsay started bullying Juliet.
The next day, Sam is extremely angry. She dresses in a skimpy outfit with the word “slut” written on it, gets in a fight with her parents, and insults all of her friends, effectively terminating their friendship and enraging Lindsay to the point where she forces Sam out of the car and leaves her to walk to school. In calculus class, Sam brazenly flirts with her perverted math teacher Mr. Daimler. After he dismisses the class, they make out, which does not feel how Sam expected it to feel and leaves her weirded out and disgusted. As she has dumped her friends and has no one to eat lunch with, Sam flees to an abandoned bathroom and finds Anna Cartullo, another one of Lindsay’s (and therefore Sam’s) victims. They have a surprisingly transparent discussion about why Sam and her friends have bullied Anna and they end up trading shoes—Sam’s high stripper heels and Anna’s comfy combat boots—for the rest of the day. As Anna leaves the bathroom to hang out with a boy Alex, who is cheating on his girlfriend with Anna, Sam tells Anna that she’s too good for Alex.
When Juliet enters the party that night, Sam, desperate for a distraction, leads a drunk Rob over to an empty bedroom with the intention of having sex. However, when they are both half-naked, Rob falls asleep because he is too drunk. Sam puts her clothes back on, stumbles into a barred-off section of Kent’s house, and sobs. It turns out Kent was standing there the whole time, and he comforts her and puts her to bed. She realizes she’s attracted to him, but then drops off to sleep and the day resets.
Sam wakes up in her own room on the morning of February 12 and makes a list of things of all the things in her life she wants to do, but probably won’t be able to. She ditches school to spend the day at home with her eight-year-old sister Izzy, bonding with her. That night, she goes out to dinner with her family, where she meets Juliet Sykes’ younger sister, Marian. Sam requests for Marian to tell Juliet “not to do it,” and Marian says she’ll tell Juliet tomorrow. Defeated by the word “tomorrow” and understanding there will never be a tomorrow, Sam goes back to her table.
Later that night, she sneaks out of the house to go to Kent’s party, but stops at Juliet’s house on the way, meeting her mother and realizing her father is indeed an alcoholic and the family has very deep issues. Desperate to get out of the house, Sam leaves to go to Kent’s party. Juliet has already shown up and been pushed around by Sam’s friends, and has subsequently run into the woods. Sam chases after her and finds her standing by the highway. She tries to talk to Juliet, but Juliet is past the point of saving and runs out into the road. Juliet is struck and killed by the car that Lindsay is driving, with Elody and Ally also in the car. The car veers off the road and into a tree. Ally and Lindsay are unhurt, but Elody, who was sitting shotgun in the seat Sam otherwise would have occupied, was killed. Sam realizes the “flash of white” she saw that night was Juliet running out in front of the car.
Kent deals with the police and takes care of the situation, then escorts Sam back to the house, helps her warm up, puts her in dry clothes, and puts her to bed. Before she falls asleep, she asks him why he’s being so nice to her. He replied that, when they were little, Sam defended him from a bully when he was crying because his grandfather had died. She feels his lips on hers but then she drops off to sleep and the day is lost.
The next day, Sam is very happy, but in an effort to be a better person, she ends up accidentally wronging some rights. She sends dozens of flowers to Juliet from “her secret admirer”, who interprets it as a taunt rather than a compliment. Sam gets revenge on certain people in vindictive ways, like embarrassing Rob at Kent’s party and revealing to Alex’s girlfriend that he’s cheating on her, enraging them both. She has a long talk with Juliet in the bathroom before Juliet makes it to Lindsay, Ally, and Elody to insult them, but Sam fails to get through to her. Juliet escapes into the woods, and Sam chases after her and manages to save her from an oncoming truck. Sam tries to talk Juliet out of committing suicide, but Juliet won’t listen and runs into oncoming traffic for a second time, killing herself.
Sam drives Lindsay home after the suicide, and upon dropping her off, talks with her about Juliet. Lindsay seems defeated, and Sam realizes she is far less fearless than she portrays herself to be. Kent gives Sam a ride home, and they kiss for a few minutes when they arrive at her house. It feels right to Sam, much more right than it felt with Rob, whom Sam now finds kind of gross. Then she goes inside and falls asleep. The day resets.
The seventh and last day, Sam wakes up and does everything right. She tells her family she loves them and gifts her grandmother’s necklace to her sister Izzy. She compliments her friends, sends a single rose to both Juliet and Kent, and walks in on Alex and Anna‘s date to give Anna an art book she knows Anna will like. Arriving early to class with Mr. Daimler, Sam calls him out for being a pervert before her classmates arrive.
Sam breaks up with Rob, who gets extremely angry because he’d always shrugged her off as not being cool enough for him, and there’s never been legitimate attraction on either side. She knows now that she is disgusted by him and doesn’t like him. When it comes time for the party, Sam makes sure Lindsay doesn’t drive herself, aware that Lindsay is both a bad driver and often drives drunk. She’s picked up by Kent and they make out in the car when they get to his house, but she accidentally lets slip that she “doesn’t have much time.” Aware that’s something’s going on, he tries to stop her, but she leaves for the party. She tries to stop Juliet from killing herself again, but cannot convince Juliet in the limited time she has. When Juliet runs into the highway, Sam pushes her out of the way and is struck by a van in her stead.
Sam lies on the ground, barely conscious and dying. Above her is Juliet, cradling her head, saying, “You saved me. Why did you save me?” Sam thinks, “No. The opposite.”
Fox 2000 optioned the rights for Before I Fall in mid-2010, with Maria Maggenti named as the writer, and Jon Shestack named as a producer soon after. Ry Russo-Young was hired to direct. In 2015, Awesomness TV came on board to the produce the film. In September 2015, it was announced that Zoey Deutch had been cast as the lead. In October, Halston Sage was cast, along with actor Logan Miller and YouTube star Kian Lawley. Later that same month, Scream Queens star Diego Boneta and actress Elena Kampouris were also announced as part of the cast.
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".
- Galleys on the Go Give Readers an Early Look at Debut Novel Publishers Weekly
- 'Before I Fall' Novel Gets Movie Option: Who Should Play Sam? MTV
- Fox 2000 Sees Film Potential In Teen Novel Deadline.com
- 'Before I Fall' Development Movie Insider
- Coggan, Devan. "Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley to star in 'Before I Fall'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
- Before I Fall Publishers Weekly
- Before I Fall Teen Ink
- Before I Fall RT Book Reviews
- Before I Fall Kirkus Reviews
- "School Library Journal - Grades 5 & Up". Archived from the original on 2010-04-29. Retrieved 2019-09-02.