Before I Fall should be required reading in all high schools across America.
From the point of view of Samantha Kingston, we experience the every day social and academic life of a usual, popular teenage high school senior girl. At the opening of the book, Sam is acting like a typical teenage girl, complete with a bad attitude towards mom and baby sister, cigarettes and caffeine. Throughout her day, she makes rude remarks to the not so blessed in life teens–those not good enough to be considered “popular.” It’s Cupid Day at school, so of course the main goal of the day is to collect as many roses as possible from friends and admirers (i.e., more roses=more popularity). Not that Sam is hurting in the popularity contest, but it is a constant worry. There is a party in the evening’s plans and then after, a first night (and first ever roll in the hay) with her boyfriend, Rob. Unfortunately, by the way of too much alcohol and rolled joints, Sam’s boyfriend isn’t up to snuff for the planned activities, so Sam calls it quits for the night and heads back home with her friends. Being typical teens, the girls are fussing over music on the iPod, who-was-wearing-what and who-was-kissing-who at the party conversations. There’s still alcohol going around and through a combination of circumstances, the girls roll a Range Rover and die. That wasn’t a spoiler alert, by the way. It happens in the first 10 pages.
The great part about the book is that Sam wakes up the next morning, only to realize that she is actually repeating the day. This happens six times. Throughout the “week,” Sam tries different methods to alter the circumstances leading up to her death and the death of others.
Poignantly written, this book is like no other that I’ve ever read. It addresses so many issues that are relevant to today’s teens including, though not limited to: sex, drugs, drinking, bullying, suicide, student/teacher relationships, partying, parents. The author often turns a finger on the reader to make you consider for yourself how those things you said and did so many years ago affected so many others.
I highly recommend this book to not only teenagers, but adults alike. A great conversation starter for parents and teachers of teens.