Samantha Kingston is a bitch.Â She and her three best friends Lindsay, Elody and Ally rule the school with their better-than-you attitudes and sky-high stilettos. Sometimes Sam feels a twinge in what passes for a conscience at the bottom of her small black heart, but she usually manages to squish it. February 12 is a Friday like any other, except on the way home from a party, Sam and her girls end up rolling their car and Samâ€™s life as she knows it is over. Until the next morning, when she wakes up in her bed. Itâ€™s February 12â€”again. At first Sam thinks maybe this is a coma dream, but soon she realizes that sheâ€™s trapped in a weird limboâ€”and sheâ€™s not sure what sheâ€™s supposed to do next. â€œMaybe when you die time folds in on you, and you bounce around inside this little bubble forever.â€ She feels anger (â€œI hate both of my parents right nowâ€¦for letting the thread between us stretch so far and so thin that the moment it was severed for good they didnâ€™t even feel it.â€) then hopelessness (â€œIâ€™m dead, but I canâ€™t stop living.â€) and finally resolve, as Sam realizes she can alter events, move people around, and perhaps avoid the inevitable crash that takes her life (â€œFrom now on Iâ€™m going to do things right. Iâ€™m going to be a different person, a good person. Iâ€™m going to be the kind of person who would be remembered well, not just remembered.â€) But is Sam meant to save herself? Maybe the point of all this is to save someone elseâ€¦
If Sarah Dessen and Jenny Downham collaborated, it might look a little like this rad reinvention of the mean-girl novel. Full confession? I dreaded reading this book. Câ€™mon, a teen relives the last day of her life over and over? (Have I ever mentioned that Groundhog Day is one of my most hated movies of all time?) And itâ€™s loooonnngg. Like 450+ pages long. But surprise, surprise, Lauren Oliver had me at hello with this elegantly crafted and completely mesmerizing story about a dead girl who learns what it means to live in just seven short days. Unlike Groundhog Day, each February 12 of Samâ€™s day is different, a whole life lived in 24 short hours as she tries to accept what she has lost and wishing she appreciated it more. The length ended up being important, as Sam goes over every detail of the careless existence she took for granted, causingÂ YOU to consider all the little things in your life that you never think about but would miss terribly if they all went away. Like sunsets, little sisters and sappy movies, just to name a very few. Despite the length, there was a feeling of constant suspense as I wondered how on earth Oliver was going to solve Samâ€™s existential conundrum. I ended up loving every bit of it: the premise, the way Samâ€™s character realistically develops over the course of the story, the bittersweet end and yes, even the voluminous page count. This is a heart book. You will have an illogical urge to hug it when you’re done. I found myself racing through it, and sighing with great satisfaction upon finishing the last page. As you will, when this lovely and amazing tome comes to a library or bookstore near you.