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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is about the death of Sam Kingston, focusing on her last day with a catch: the day keeps repeating. Sam has it all: three best friends, a great boyfriend, and popularity. Cupid Day is supposed to be a day for Sam to show everyone how popular she is by how many roses she gets, and one big party with her friends. When her former friend Kent McFuller throws a party, it's supposed to be the beginning of an unforgettable night, and it is, but not in the way she thought. This is the night Sam dies in a car accident. When she wakes up, she thinks it was a nightmare, until she realizes she's reliving the day. She learns that she may know her friends, but she doesn't know everything about them, and that people may be more than she thought. With each repeat, she learns that one simple thing can change a person's life. It's the choices she makes that matter.
More than a tale of morality, Before I Fall is about friendship, family, life, and death. A gripping and compelling tale of what it means to make a difference. There's a lot of heavy themes from bullying, suicide, and death, but it never becomes too much to handle. Lauren Oliver writes about how actions have consequences and how everything you do affects someone's life, even if you don't know it. There's a domino effect every time Sam makes a new decision. Before I Fall is more than a story of conscience; it breaks stereotypes of popularity and outcasts, showing that everyone is human and complicated. This isn't saying 'hey, be a good person;' the moral of the story is to look past the facade a person has. With each repeated day, Sam learns something new. She's always taken everyone at face value, including her friends, but when she starts to look deeper, she sees there's more to them that's not spoken. This novel is perfect for teenagers needing someone to relate to, and for adults to remember what it was like in high school. Everyone could benefit in remembering simple things like kindness, second chances, and to always look past a book's cover.