December 5, 2020

‘Before I Fall’ tells uniquely grim tale

by Danielle Silvia

Staff Writer

The novel “Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver incorporates themes of self-discovery, romance, science fiction and more into the story of a teenage girl discovering her true identity and values after she has died. 

This story documents 17-year-old Sam Kingston during her last few months of high school. Sam has three close friends, Lindsay, Elody and Ally, all of which are popular at Ridgeview High School in Connecticut.

The novel opens seconds after Sam has been killed in a car crash, but suddenly, she wakes up untouched in her bed on the last day of her life, Feb. 12, commonly known as “Cupid Day” at her high school.

“Cupid Day” is a day in which students try to obtain as many roses — and thus secret admirers — as possible to promote their popularity, or lack of it.

The day after her death, Sam realizes she knows everything that will happen on that ill-fated day: She will receive several roses, be invited to a lame peer’s party later that night, have plans to spend the night at her boyfriend’s house and everything in between until she dies in the same car crash at 12:40 a.m.

In ‘Before I Fall’, the teenage protagonists premature death causes her to reflect existentially. (Photo by HarperCollins)

She relives this day more than six times and in doing so, endures the stages of grief, all while re-examining her life from her dead body.

Sam begins to realize what matters most to her and what she regrets. She ends up deeply regretting the lack of compassion she had for her peers, the fakeness she sees in her friends, the vain and shallow person she really was and, most of all, her lack of purity.

Sam begins to unravel the depths of her death and when she realizes her death is intertwined with something or someone else, she realizes there is no turning back and must make the best of the day she must relive.

This eye-opening novel made me realize that I have had moments in which I do not think about what matters most to me in life. Thinking about the finality death makes me realize how important it is to live the best life that I can.

Sam realizes several times throughout the book how she didn’t say “I love you” enough. She focused too much on what other people thought of her and not enough on herself or what she wanted for her future.

I think this a very valuable lesson because as people, we only have a certain number of tomorrows. We never know when our time will run out. In the long run, it is best to live life to our morals and values and spend the time that we have truly enjoying what we are doing.

This riveting novel made me invested in what the characters were doing, as I tried to figure out what truly was underneath Sam’s death. It kept me alert and vigilant at all times, and I did not want to put it down. There were so many mini-plot lines that near the end of the novel I was asking myself, “How is there going to be enough pages to wrap up everything?”

I cannot wait to see the movie version of “Before I Fall,” which will be released on March 3 and will star Zoey Deutch as Sam.

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