Monday, August 8, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Sam Kingston has lived her life fully - for herself.  Her parents and sister don't ever see her; she's usually with her best friends Lindsay, Elody, and Ally; getting drunk; or making out with her boyfriend Rob.  Or all three.  She's at the top of her school - popularity-wise  - and she doesn't plan to stop now.  The other girls in her school aren't even allowed to speak to her and her friends without getting thrashed in some way or another.
But when Sam dies, all that changes.  She is given the chance - six chances, in fact - to relive the day she make things right.  And as her life and the consequences of her actions unfold in front of her, Sam must discover and do the right thing, before her life shatters - and with no meaning at all.


My thoughts -
Dear Lauren,
Your books make me bawl.
Sincerely, Sierra
It's ridiculous.  You should have seen me.  Sitting on the ground, head in my hands, bawling.
My thoughts?  Want to hear them?  How about, "How in the heck am I ever going to find the words to write this review?!"
So, as my brain is in a fuzz of "I love this book so flipping much!", I sit here with my notepad, and the book for reference, and I start my review.
If I could write "How did she DO it?!" as my review (over and over again), I would.  But I won't.  I willtry tobe as coherent as possible for the sake of my readers.

1st:  Lauren  Oliver has a style of writing that blows me away with its awesomeness.  Not only does it create perfect images of the characters/story, it's just cold water running over your head on a hot summer day.  Refreshing.  Delightful.  And it's also powerful.  Especially powerful.

2nd:  The images created in my mind during this story were so clear and intense that I couldn't help but turn another page...and another...and another.  I can still see Sam, having a friend zip up her new, too-tight, strappy black dress.  I can still picture the unfortunate scene with her math teacher.  I can smell the nasty Asian food as she stomped in on Alex and Anna.  If you've read the book, are the pictures as sharp in your mind as in mine?

3rd:  I love the smell of this book.  Period.  End of story.

Character notes -
Every single character was so visibly and perfectly etched out that it would be hard for me to forget them, even if I wanted to.  Lindsay, the bold leader, the one harboring a secret.  Sam, the voice of this story, changing and growing with every page.  Ally, the spoiled child.  Elod, the brash one.  Alex, the cheater.  Rob, the idiot.
And Kent - Mr. Wonderful.  What is it about Lauren Oliver's literature boys?  I mean, really.  Alex from Delirium.  Kent from Before I Fall.  Two of my favorite lit-boys.  GAH!  I just love them!!!!
So basically - characters - genius.  Perfect.  Whether disgusting or wonderful or funny or stupid.  Perfect.

Story notes -
Hellooooo!!! This is one HECK of a story, from the first to the last word.  Everything is so...involved.  Intricate.  From the moment Sam wakes up to live her last day to the last page, everything falls in beautiful harmony.  Although, this is not a story for the faint of heart.  It involves death, suicide, drugs, drinking, sex, fitting in, selfishness,and the meaning of life.  Therefore, things can get a little intense.  I recommend that everyone reads the cautionary notes below...

Sam tries to live her life better, but doesn't know how.  What will it take for her to get it?  How many times must she die and relive that day?  As she goes from unbelieving to bitter to "I can do whatever I want without consequences" to thoughtful to, well...see for yourself - the story becomes like a path unfolding, getting lighter and lighter with each step, leaving the darkness of Sam's past behind.

Summing it up -
Incredible and Devastating and Phenomenally Perfect are all words/phrases that come to mind when I think of this book.  And what did it do for me, that I feel so strongly about it?  It reminded me that life is short; death is often unexpected.  What I do with my time - it matters.  How I act has consequences, usually for others as well as me.  It caused me to look a little closer at the details in life; to study others' lives and ask, "How can I serve?  What can I do for you?"
Lauren Oliver has written a masterpiece here (and, in my opinion, in Delirium as well), with a message for everyone.  I heartily recommend, as I wipe the bittersweet tears from my eyes and live a little stronger.

For the parents -
This book is definitely rated R...  I wouldn't recommend to anyone under 17, as the subject matter is very intense.  (No spoilers in this section.)  Scenes involve smoking pot (a girl sits in an empty bathroom at school every day and smokes pot/eats lunch) and drinking heavily to the point of throwing up/passing out.  The party that happens every night is full of kids making out and getting drunk and even having sex (this is only vaguely referred to).  A ton of language, especially b***h.  No F*** or GD, but everything else.  Sam's friends spew random vulgar words, whether for shock effect or just because that's how they talk.  A lot of the story revolves around the fact that Sam is supposed to lose her virginity with her boyfriend that night.  It never happens (oh, the irony!), but one of the days after she dies she has the sudden urge to "get it over with".  She finds an empty bedroom with Rob and they make out (a few details).  However, he's so drunk that as she's asking if he wants to take off her dress, he actually passes out.  Sexual jokes are made ("No glove, no love"), and a few times the girls make crude sexual gestures.  One of her "second chance days", Sam seduces her math teacher.  They make out and there are some details, although they are there to make you cringe at how disgusting the situation is, not how "sexy" it is, or would have been.  Two teachers are secretly together and make out in an office.  No details on the suicide but it happens every night and is very sad.
So is it worth it, even with all this?  Yes, it is.  Just be sure you can handle all the nitty-gritty, disgusting details of stupid Sam's life, and you'll be blessed by selfless Sam's life.


  1. Phenomenally Perfect; you're so right! I hardly have words to describe this book, but those two words very much do.
    I know how you feel, about not knowing what to write, because I felt the same way. I literally wandered around dumbly a week after I finished reading just thinking, "Oh, fudge. What am I going to write?" Then I just ended up writing some incoherent review about the behaviour of a sobbing mess.
    This review is infinitely better. LOVE!

  2. I so completely agree with everything in your review. This book is so freaking awesome!! Oliver's writing is so beautiful and the plit in this one is so crazy and would be really hard to pull of if anyone other than Oliver wrote it. And I love Kent just like you! *sigh* GREAT review!!! =)

  3. I agree! This book is fantastic. It just made me think about things, you know? Lauren Oliver is an extremely talented writer. I can't wait til I get a chance to read Delirium!

    Stopped by from the Saturday Situation!

  4. I absolutely love this book. Everyone's raving about Delirium and although I bought both books at the same time, I chose to read this one first. I read the thing in a day, which I rarely do with any books more than 200 pages. Thanks for sharing! :D

  5. Before I Fall was the first great book I read last year. I own a copy of Delirium but I still haven't managed devour it. I really should.

  6. So, I take it I need to finally read this book, eh? I am okay with that. I have wanted to read it for a long time but I am incredibly emotional. I think it is time for me to read it though. If it is as incredible as you say, then I am missing out if I don't hurry up and get to it. Thanks for the great review.

  7. I've been wanting to get my hands on this book since forever and just seeing it now makes me want it that much more :)

  8. I hope you love love LOVE it! :D It's really really life changing... :)

  9. Ummm yes you HAVE to read this! :D I hope you love it like I did!

  10. Yeah , this book was amazing. And you're right , it's really life changing. Love it!