Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Review : Before I fall

Author : Lauren OLIVER
Title : Before I Fall
Format : e-book
ISBN : 9780061987496
Published : 03/02/2010
Publisher: Harper Collins

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.
source : Harper Collins

Having finished the Delirium trilogy (of which reviews will also be posted in the coming days or weeks), I wanted to read Lauren Oliver's debut novel, Before I fall, before moving on to other authors.  Even though I longed to read it, I was slightly apprehensive of the setting of the whole book i.e. highschool.  Unlike others I don't have a lot of memories, good or bad, attached to my highschool years.  And I am always left bewildered when I see the way highschool is depicted in books or movies.  It makes me wonder if I spent my teenage years in a protective bubble or if highschool in the US is really such a different place than its European counterpart.  I guess it is a bit of both. On one hand, having had my education in an all girls, catholic school has undoubtedly sheltered me (compulsory uniforms tend to smooth out to some extent the social differences between students for one thing). On the other hand, US co-ed schools and their habits of clubs and social events with king & queen crownings, are probably more conducive to the forming of cliques, popularity contests and the like. But anyway ...

If this book were a movie, it would be a something like "Mean Girls on Groundhog Day".  The day is Feb 12 (Cupid Day at T. Jefferson High) and the book follows It-girl Samantha Kingston from the moment her alarm goes off on that ordinary Friday, up to the moment she meets an untimely end when the car, driven by Queen Bee Lindsay, swerves off the road on their return from a booze fuelled party. She spent the last day of her life as usual, being her obnoxious self and bullying her co-students, while moving along with her clique.  Can you tell I really didn't care for the main character on Day 1?

Just after the accident, Sam wakes up in her bedroom. It's Friday morning again and the whole day plays out in a kind of macabre déjà-vu.  And for seven consecutive days, she relives Cupid Day, moving through all the stages of grief from disbelief, over anger to acceptance.  With every renewed day, she sheds layer after layer of pettiness, evolving from the spoiled, self-centered and narcissistic it-girl to a more humble girl who realises that just maybe the price she paid for popularity was too steep. Through the different decisions she takes, we catch glimpses of the kind and ordinary girl she used to be and understand how all the characters of the book were changed and formed through their respective pasts.  Every action, every decision has consequences. While revisiting her last day on earth, Sam tries to find ways to save herself and at the same time, the persons around her.

The thing I liked most about this book was that it reminded me that you never know what life can bring and that you shouldn't wait until it is too late to say  "I love you" to your family and to show kindness to others.

My favourite quote from the book :

"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 it, let it slide like coins through you 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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