Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
... into the submission of melancholic turmoil, or was it a never ending reflective narrative that left me refreshed?
It's safe to say that when I began reading this book I was not head over heels with excitement or expecting to take any meaningful sentiments away from it. In fact I hated it when I first started reading it I despised the narrator so much I put it down for 3 months before deciding to try and tackle it again. It took me two very trying attempts to finish reading this book. Perhaps it was the monotonous fact that you know this whole book is going to be about Samantha's last day, from the get go I had taken an instant disliking to Sam. But eventually I did it, and I was so glad I did when I read the last page.
I loved this book, hated this book, refused to read it at one time: it's annoying; cruel; honest; heart breaking; real. High School is supposed to be the best years of your life but teenage girls can be really cruel and I find it truly refreshing to get an insight into the head space of several mean girls.
Being a rather presumptuous and judgmental reader Samantha appeared to me as a real mean "bitch" I guess that automatically turned me off from finishing the book first time round. I've figured out why this book required effort on my part, it's because I could really connect to Sam not that I wanted to but it would have made this a much easier read. However this book forced me to read something I had pretty much decided I wasn't going to like and I might say it proved me wrong.
The pretentiousness of the mean girls was seriously off putting, but they're mean girls you're not supposed to like them. Fact.
Sam is a conflicted character torn between not wanting to be "the lowest of the low" of the food chain and being the girl who is cruel and superficial but gets first pick of everything.
The more I read the more I felt for Sam, her life really had no meaning until the day she died and then subsequently had live her last day over and over again until she finally found what she was looking for in a sense, or found what she didn't know she needed to look for.
In a way in glad Sam's death sent her on a journey of self discovery. This novel taught me to live my life to the fullest and have no regrets, because you've never know what could happen tomorrow. For YA fiction it was a nice change to have a book written from the perspective of a mean girl rather than the Juliet Sykes' of the world. From Sam's point of view I was able to see that everything you do no matter how insignificant or unimportant it may seem at the time it can have huge consequences for both yourself and those around you.
One thing I love about the way Lauren Oliver presented Sam, she was realistic, by my hopeful romantic standards anyway. Sam didn't automatically realise what she had to do to end her own personal butterfly effect; in fact it took her seven very trying attempts to end it. Sam's final heroic act of sacrificing herself to save Juliet is truly beautiful; it shows how far she has come from the girl at the beginning of the novel who knew right from wrong but ignored it to giving up her own life so she can finally rest in peace.
The characterization of the characters was astounding, I'm hardly feeling sorry for all the mean girls in the world, but the way Oliver allowed the characters to grow and develop over the 7 chapters - which is hardly anytime for them to make amends for all the cruel and harsh things they have done - it allowed the depth of their characters to be explored and somewhat understood. From chapter one I truly though Lindsey was just a stone cold female dog but by the end of the novel I realised there was so much depth behind her strong, nonchalant demeanour. Even the mean girls have hearts they don't want to be broken
Young Adult Fiction can raise though provoking questions about life and how we should all live our lives