November 23, 2015

On My Bookshelf: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

In Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Samantha Kingston has the chance to relive the last day of her life over and over and try to make things right. Her retakes allow her to realize who and what is really important. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Basic plot: Samantha Kingston's life seems pretty perfect. She and her three best friends, Lindsay, Ally, and Elody are the most popular girls in school. Her boyfriend Rob is hot, she receives plenty of roses on Cupid's Day, and other girls want to be her. But her perfect life is shattered that night when Rob gets too drunk for their "first time," Sam and her friends are confronted by a girl they pick on, and Lindsay's drunk driving lands them off the road. Sam finds herself dead, floating in time and space, and then awakening to relive that day over and over (think Groundhog Day meets The Butterfly Effect). Each time she awakens, she makes changes to the day trying to change its outcome, first just for herself and then for others as well, but realizes that just making changes for the good cannot cancel out all of the bad.

Why I liked it: The main character, Sam is impossible not to like. She is confident and sassy at times, vulnerable and insecure at others. On some of her "retakes," she is kind and thoughtful, and on other "retakes" she is her own woman,brutally honest and refusing to play by the rules of social order. She is trying to cover up a nerdy past, but also enjoys a close knit friendship full of laughter, inside jokes, and silly hijinks. Like the characters in Panic, another of Lauren Oliver's novels, those in Before I Fall were believable rather than stereotypical teenagers.

Classroom application: This is definitely a title I would add to my high school classroom library and would be a popular pick among female students.

The novel would be an interesting pairing with Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder" as both deal with the idea of "the butterfly effect," one one event or action impacts another in the future.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Before I Fall for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here. Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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