Before I Fall

Some books are…

what. 


Before I Fall


  • Author: Lauren Oliver
  • Publisher: Harper Teen
  • Year: 2010
  • Genre vibe: It’s contemporary Life and Death Stuff, but there is a definite twist of surrealism
  • At a glance: Samantha’s last day is something else. And then it’s something else. And something else after that. Seven times she relives the last day of her life, discovering along the way everything she was missing, and some things she wasn’t. 

Just like my story with many of the greats, my introduction into the world of Lauren Oliver has been a long time coming. Always meaning to, never getting around to it. And then at graduation, a lovely friend of mine gave me Before I Fall. Even then: meaning to, not getting to it. And then I actually picked the thing up. And let me tell you this: I made a grave mistake. 

Every book on my shelf has a story attached to the reading of it, as does, I’m sure, every book on yours. The stories that go along with the stories are important to me. With this one, the stage is set with a reading slump. All yours truly wants to do is re read April Tucholke books, dammit. And she can’t decide what to read or how to read it, so it’s midnight and she picks up the nicest looking thing on her TBR. 

Three days later she’s been on the ride of her life and has a vague existential crisis. 

Here’s the thing about Before I Fall: It is so wonderfully crafted, that even by the time you get to the point of only having twenty pages left, you have no idea how sh*t’s gonna go down. 

None. 

At all. 

This book is the kind of sweeping idea that gives nothing away beforehand, the kind of story approach that is so good at leaving you wondering what’s around the corner that you’re not even tempted to peek ahead: you just keep reading. You have to know, and you don’t just want to know, you want to see. Oliver is a genius at taking you along for the ride and making you as a reader feel as though you are observing everything from a standpoint right beside Samantha. You feel it all

Lauren Oliver is a YA legend. This is, for the most part, general knowledge. And she doesn’t disappoint, not one bit. Ever since I finished Before I Fall about a week ago, it’s been haunting me. Like someone’s ghost. Like I need to look through it again, just to make sure it really, truly happened. This, in my opinion, is quite the feat to pull off as a storyteller. To create something that follows its consumers around. That’s the goal, right?

Well, Oliver succeeded marvelously in my opinion. And while I can’t say for certain if I ever really will re read Before I Fall–I feel like it’s something best experienced for the first time, and then remembered–I could continue gushing about it for a while. 

Another of the things I loved so much about it was the sheer depth of character. Not only in the cast, but in the story itself. This is a book that isn’t driven by any one thing alone. Events hold just as much weight as insights, and vice-versa. The impact of any given thing is just as much a catalyst to the plot as the actual thing that happened. This book is as much about action-reaction as it is anything else, which I feel is–almost, sort of, a little bit–the point. 

There are a lot of books in the vein of Before I Fall. But it’s going to take something pretty incredible to surpass it in my mind. 

So before I continue gushing everywhere, let’s go overall: 

  • Rating: 5/5 stars 
  • Recommended to: People who prefer strong characters, people who enjoy surrealism, people in general, people that love teenage girls especially. 
  • Lasting impression: How stringy your hair gets when it’s soaked with rain, specifically, not just water. Driving, with the windows down and the music up, and you can’t remember how you know all the words. Your favorite breakfast, and the mirrors-edge feeling of looking at your life from the outside. 
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