Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver
2010, HarperCollins, 480pages
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
— Amazon.com description
This is the most compelling book I've read in a long, long time. I picked it up right before bed, hoping to get through a chapter or two before passing out.
In the next 12 hours, I did little more than read or sleep. I could barely put the book down until I finished it.
It was lovely, sad, thoughtful, funny and real. The interactions in this book took me right back to high school. I read a lot of YA—duh—but no other book has transported me back so clearly to driving to school with my BFFs, navigating the hallways, you name it. While reading this book, I remembered things about my high school experience that I'd long forgotten.
The relationship between Kent and Sam is sweet and perfect and painfully short, and the word choice used to the fleeting nature of this relationship (and of time and of life and of...everything) is poetic, but never overwrought: "I feel the flutter of his lips on mine, but it's too late, I'm slipping, I'm gone, he's gone, and the moment curls away and back on itself like a flower folding up for the night."
It is a YA take on Groundhog Day, but a soulful one with a very clear message, as the back of the book says: "Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around in it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know."
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