Kerry Winfrey
May 25, 2013 7:00 am

Are you in the mood to read a book that will take over your life, make you sob uncontrollably and occupy your thoughts for the next week? If so, do I ever have a recommendation for you…Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.

Obviously, all YA fans know who Lauren Oliver is. In addition to Before I Fall, she wrote the Delirium trilogy, which is everywhere. But somehow (because I’m a moron, apparently?), I’d never actually read Before I Fall. That is, until fellow HelloGiggles writer Stephanie Spitler told me via a caps-lock heavy tweet that I needed to read it ASAP. And who am I to ignore an urgent tweet? Caps lock means business. So I started Before I Fall one night while I was in the middle of about a billion other things, intending to just read a few pages. You can guess how that went. Before I knew it, I’d spent the entire evening on the couch, engrossed in the book and ignoring my real-life responsibilities. Getting lost in a book is an awesome feeling, but getting lost in a truly great book? There’s nothing better. Before I Fall will totally suck you in, too.

When we first meet our leading lady Sam, she’s sort of a mean girl and it’s hard to feel much sympathy for her. She spends most of her time making fun of people with her ultra-tight clique of girlfriends or talking to her pretty lame boyfriend, Rob. But all of that changes when Sam and her friends are driving home from a party one night and their SUV crashes. Sam wakes up in her bedroom, but she soon realizes that it’s the morning of the crash, again. She’s stuck reliving the same day, over and over, like Groundhog Day but without a superfine Bill Murray.

As Sam goes through the same routine day after day, she starts to change. What’s more, our perception of Sam, her friends and her classmates starts to change, too. What Lauren Oliver shows up in Before I Fall is that designations like “popular” and “unpopular” or “cool” and “uncool” are meaningless—something that can be hard to remember in high school. We see that everyone is just a person, whether they’re a mean girl or an outcast. Some people might do crappy things and some people might do wonderful things, but everyone has a story and a hidden pain that makes them who they are.

Don’t be as dumb as I was and wait forever to check out Before I Fall—read it right now (well, as soon as you’re done with this column)!

SOME HIGHLIGHTS:

-Sam and her friends listen to Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama every day on the way to school, which was a real high school flashback for me. What a jam!

Before I Fall features one of the best YA male characters yet—Kent McFuller, who writes for the school’s humor newspaper and wears a bowler hat. Normally I’m not a fan of headwear on guys, but I’ll give Kent a pass since it’s not a fedora and he’s otherwise awesome. He’s so nice and above the general high school BS that you can’t help but fall in love with him.

-Okay, so this is a very obvious statement, but I have to say it anyway…Lauren Oliver is an AMAZING writer. I know you guys are all, “Duh, Kerry, we’ve been on the Lauren Oliver train since FOREVER AGO,” but whatever. I’m dumbstruck by her lovely prose. It’s such a treat to find a book that not only has a compelling plot, but poetic language as well. Most of my favorite quotes are a bit spoilery, but here’s one that I loved: “I’ve never really thought about it before, but it’s a miracle how many kinds of light there are in the world, how many skies: the pale brightness of spring, when it feels like the whole world’s blushing; the lush, bright boldness of a July noon; purple storm skies and a green queasiness just before lightning strikes and crazy multicolored sunsets that look like someone’s acid trip.”

-If you love Before I Fall, then chances are you’ve already read Delirium. But if not, do it! The third book in the series, Requiem, just came out a couple of months ago.

What about you guys? Are you big Lauren Oliver fans? Have you read Before I Fall? What books have totally taken over your life lately? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at youngadulteducation@gmail.com or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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