Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

before i fall
Samantha Kingston is a bitch.  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 Sam’s life as she knows it is over. Until the next morning, when she wakes up in her bed. It’s February 12—again. At first Sam thinks maybe this is a coma dream, but soon she realizes that she’s trapped in a weird limbo—and she’s not sure what she’s supposed to do next. “Maybe when you die time folds in on you, and you bounce around inside this little bubble forever.” She feels anger (“I hate both of my parents right now…for letting the thread between us stretch so far and so thin that the moment it was severed for good they didn’t even feel it.”) then hopelessness (“I’m dead, but I can’t stop living.”) and finally resolve, as Sam realizes she can alter events, move people around, and perhaps avoid the inevitable crash that takes her life (“From now on I’m going to do things right. I’m going to be a different person, a good person. I’m going to be the kind of person who would be remembered well, not just remembered.”) But is Sam meant to save herself? Maybe the point of all this is to save someone else…

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. C’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 it’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 Sam’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, causing  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 Sam’s existential conundrum. I ended up loving every bit of it: the premise, the way Sam’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.

103 thoughts on “Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

  1. I just finished this book and i loved it…. But could someone PLEASE explain the ending for me without any of the confusing stuff?!?! Or a website least? PLEASE! i really want to understand it.

  2. I really liked the book, but I am still VERY confused on what actually happens at the end! Does she really die? I thought if she fixed everything she would be back and get to be with Kent, but it ends! someone please help me!

  3. I love the book!
    It does get boring with the same thing happening over and over in different way though.

  4. I love this book so much although im only hafe way through…cant believe what mr. daliton did to her! wow… i would do the same as her if i new i could just startover the next day… so cool! five star!

  5. Ok so I truly enjoyed this book, and felt like my own life depended on the outcome of Sam’s. I really hoped that at the end of it, she would awaken to Feb. 13th, and she would ride off into the sunset with Kent, but instead Oliver gave us a realistic ending, or did she? My interpretation of the ending is that Sam possibly lived. If you reread the ending, it seems as though Sam is trapped in her past life that she has relived the last 7 days, and now has finally pushed through to the present. I had to read the ending twice to understand what happened. It reads like she is being called by her friends who are both in the woods with Sam, and calling to her as she lies on the concrete. I don’t think she died. I believe that the epilogue is describing what it is like to die and the memories that come flooding back to you. I believe that the final page before the epilogue is Sam waking up to her friends standing above her calling her back from death. Any thoughts on if I might be right?

  6. I read the ending two or three times and still am having trouble understanding it, as it seems everyone else is too. I wish the author would have elaborated just a bit on the ending considering she put so much into the rest of the book and at the end all we get is two pages. Don’t get me wrong I really liked the book, I just think the ending needed more. Like what in the world happened to Juliet and Kent and all of Sam’s friends. I hope there is going to be a second book to continue the story. I believe after Juliet jumped Sam pushed her out of the way and then Kent grabs her and pulls her out of the way with him. So I believe everyone made it out safely.

  7. I had a love/hate relationship with this book. Mixed emotions. And WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS. DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK!

    At first, I definitely did not like Sam, much like everybody else who read it. I was thinking about not reading it after a couple hundred pages, but being the loyal reader I am, I didn’t. (Though it was very tempting…but I hate not finishing books and not knowing what happens in the end.) The second half, I started lovin it. Sam changed so much, just in seven days. Even though her friends were bitches…I really liked them in the end. Well, ok, I still kind of don’t like Lindsey…but SHE’S not the one reliving her days, so she’s not changing, I guess. My feelings didn’t change for Ally either…she was kind of just…there. Elody was one of my favorite characters, though. (Especially from the direct quote, ‘She’s the nicest one of all of us’) I was so depressed when she died (even though the next day, she’s back) And Kent was so frikin adorable. I wanted to punch Rob in the face, pushing aside the fact he’s not real. Juliet seriously annoyed me in the end–it’s like, JUST DON’T KILL YOURSELF, STUPID. And I HATED the ending. I changed it for myself, and convinced myself she’s not dead. ^__^ But I mean, seriously, she JUST got with Kent, made everything right and…she dies. Really? It was just such a waste. But then again, not everything’s fairytale happy endings. But I really loved Sam in the end and felt sympathy for her…everybody, actually. (Except Rob and that duch teacher)
    I fell in love with this novel and reread it twice. 🙂 If you haven’t read it, READ IT. NOW. And this comment is much longer than I intended it to be…but it’s still an amazing book. I admit, I cried in the end. It’s amazing.

  8. i LOVED this book but someone help me, did she really die? i hope not and is this book past in real life? anyway i hope someone can anser this questions

    <3 Danae.R.

  9. I thought at first that this book was lengthy. But at the end, it made sense. I was reading one of the comments up here. (To be exact it was Tiffany’s) I agree, how the author is trying to deliver this message on how the littlest things can affect ppl in many diffrent ways blahblahblah but thats not why im writing this. The argument between the ending: (1)She lived, & the seven Feb 12ths were just illusions. She was probably in a coma or smthing [it would explain the whole ‘SamSamSam’ voices at the end; she was probably almost waking up from her coma, so she could hear the voices around her. (2)Sam died. I guess everyone wants her to live, because of her thing with Kent, but the whole point of the 7 days thing was to make sam figure out that she needed to save Juliet’s life. It was why she got seven do-overs. To make things right. Now, if she lives, then what was the point of the do-overs >.< I dont think i explained myself enough here, but its the best i could do. This book is amazing. IFLIPPINLOVEIT.

  10. In the end Sam dies (just to clear things up). She got a chance to set things right & to do that she had to save Juliet from killing herself. Not a happy ending but a realistic one. The last chapter I took it as she was talking from after death ( think of the the lovely bones, if that makes sense?)
    This book was just amazing:)

  11. I thought that the book was absolutely amazing. The ending was a tad bit confusing, yes. I just hope that there will be a sequel.
    I read this book in 2 days, and I was never able to put it down. (:

  12. It took me awhile to finish this book with it being the last week of schools and having finals. but any chance i got i was glued to this book! amazing love story and breath taking story of the fight for life. crazy how everything fit together. it makes yout think twice about how you look at people knowing that everyone has thier secrets. i thank lauren oliver for writing this book because personly it makes me what to live everyday to the fullest, tell my parents i love them everyday, and take time for the little things.

  13. I loved this book too. I wanted to answer the question “did she die” answer is yes she did. She decided that the right thing to do would be to save the girl that everyone picks on. If you go back, she references a “white light” right before the crash. That light is the girl that she ends up saving at the end.

  14. wouldn’t juliet have been traumatized for life, knowing some girl she barely knew died to save her?

  15. So i loved the book but I am a little bit confused about the ending. I mean its not so much a did she die or not with me, i just wish that there was a little bit more of an explanation of what exactly happened. anyway loooooovvveed the book and cant wait to read delierium

  16. i loved the book and she did die in the end and she was reliving the day to save Juliet’s life because in the beginning when she died it was juliet that caused them to crash so instead of having the innocent girl die because they made her life horrible she wanted to save Juliets life

  17. At least I’m not alone on the whole ending being VERY confusing I red the ending atleast 5 times and still don’t get itt… :/ I shure as he’ll didn’t want her to die, but I’m pretty shure she did :/ but oh well in my mind she was in a coma and the voices at the end were her friends calling her to wake up… She is still bff’s with Lindsay, ally, and elbony (dont think I spelt her name right:$ awks) then she hooked up with Kent and everything wasss fine expect the fact that she had been in a coma for a week…

  18. i am almost completely positive she dies in the end. i felt sort of stupid not understanding the ending – i thought it was just me being an airhead, but it’s good to know i’m not the only one who’s debating about this. me and my sister (who is 4 years older than me) both read this book in a total of 2 days each. we both loved it and are both doing our summer reading reports on it. (she’s going into senior year, me 8th grade). i think she dies because although her love with Kent sadly (and abruptly) ends, i feel that the whole reason she goes into this “limbo” state for the seven days is to teach her a lesson, and to make her realize that it was their fault (her, lindsay, elody, and ally) that juliet died in the beginning, because she was going to kill herself anyways, but going to that party really finished off the deal – being pushed around and called names and soaked with alcohol from people pouring drinks on her. so, to get her out of that limbo state she had to save juliet’s life in order to save herself (in a way) from the bad things she’d done to juliet. i just don’t understand why this book (and the events that happened in it) aren’t based around Lindsay. she was best friends with juliet until that incident on that girl scout trip in 5th grade (i think?). it was probably because sam happened to be in the front seat of the car, resulting in her being killed as well as obviously, juliet. that’s also why on one of the days elody died instead, because since sam didn’t go to the party at kent’s. these are just my thoughts, i hope they shed a bit of light on this situation for you! thanks! ~Lilli

  19. I finished this book a few days ago and I have to agree with everyone, it’s trully a great book, absorving and with really solid caracthers. The story is awsome and I couldn’t stop reading it. I really loved it. Actually, I’am already thinking about rereading it.

  20. (SPOILERS)
    Anyway, after reading all the comments I started thinking I haven’t understood the end correctly ’cause I always though she died in the end. So I read it again and I notice something: right before the epilogue, when Sam says she sees Juliet’s face above her, she also says that she feels a hand in her face which is cool and dry. Ok, I easily accept that it could be cool, but dry? If it’s raining and Juliet is drenched how the hell is her hand dry? It made me think that somehow it could be happening latter than the moment when Sam saved her, maybe in the hospital.
    I still think she ended up dying (specially because of the epilogue) once that this really causes impact and makes you thing about life, your actions and if you waste your time and everything Sam talks about, but I can’t avoid thinking, maybe there some hope?


    I am pretty sure Sam dies at the end. The last paragraph that starts with “The moment of death…” and describes the warmth and light and moving forward, feeling like the embodiement of singing;I think she is basically telling the reader what it felt like when she died.
    The voices calling her were Kent and her friends trying to get her to come back, but unfortunately, Sam knew what she had to do and couldn’t be stopped. They continued calling her after the accident, but that was them screaming when they saw what happened to her.
    I am glad she was able to express her love for her parents, Izzy, and Kent and save Juliet before she did, though. Bittersweet ending.

  22. This was for sure on of my fav books i have ever read!:) It really was good! It is a book I can relate to. There is girls in my class that thinks there the hot “shit” and do whatever the heck they want not caring what people think. I like this book because it show how a bitch can actually be a good person. I loved the relationship with her and Kent! It was secretive and it was pretty funny when Rob was rejected. I felt bad for Kent because he really liked her, and when he saw her die. I wonder what he would do after that. Go talk to her grave everyday? They need to make this a movie because it seriously was the best book I have ever read, and it really made feel mixed emotions! I NEVER cry when I read books, and this one made me cry finding out she died in the end…:( I wish she lived so she could do what is right ,and be happy with Kent…. If they made this a movie, I would not only buy it, but have all of my friends watch it too.. My friend wants the book now because I told her it was good!!

  23. @Rachel well the ending isn’t bad or so nice though, it clearly states that she saves juliet from suiciding and lauren oliver leaves it unclear whether she died or not. what the author tries to says to the readers is it’s our choice if we want samantha died or survived in the end. if you think of it, if you were samantha what would you do in your last day? samantha chooses to right her wrongdoings on her last days, and she didn’t wait the accident to happen again in the end cause whatever happens, saving the girl you’ve done bad things is worth than her own death.

  24. Well , This Book Was Good & I Agree With Rina When She Said It Was Our Choice To See If She Survived Or Not . I Also Think The Author WAS Letting it be our decision the way a good author should do when she doesn’t Know how to end a story . It Was A Good Book But Some Parts Could Have been Omitted . The End Had Me Teary End & it’s Weather you want her to live or nor base on your Watchful Eye On how well she changed .

  25. I really enjoyed reading this book and read it in three days. However, what confuses me is that none of the possibilities really make any perfect sense.

    1. Sam saved Juliet’s life- not really, Juliet died too, why would the seventh day count and not the first if she died from the beginning?
    2. Sam died- rereading over and over again on the last page she describes seeing faces and red and white flashes (ambulances) which is commonly said throughout the book and she says the person who’s hand is on her face says “you saved me” and she thinks “no. you saved me” therefore saving juliet is what saves her life. Also, she feels a hand beneath her, maybe Kent’s hand? Last, the epilogue isn’t written in past tense, it’s actually written in future tense as if Sam is writing about when she will die.
    3. Sam is alive-well then what was all of this and if this was a test, who gave it to her and how did it happen?

    PLEASE someone give me some input I am so upset about the ending

  26. i love this book its the best i have read in a long time its an awesome flash back book full of flawing moments

  27. Although i do not want to believe it i believe she does die. The last two to three paragraphs are describing first kent then the girls and then juliet all rushing to her before she die. It also mentions a halo which could symbolize her ascent into heaven.

    An awesome book.

  28. Yes Sam died in the end and Juliet lived. I cried so much at the end ecause she just got with Kent I couldn’t have hated the ending more it was just really sad and could have been changed if Juliet didn’t run in front of the cars I just wish Lauren didn’t put the whole falling in love with Kent it just made it loads sadder and if you didn’t like this ending I don’t quite recommend her other series I mean both books were amazing but they both have a similar ending with can finally be together but torn apart by Death it’s almost like none of the characters she creates will ever have a happy ending…. This is gonna bug me for like a week I was soo happy for her and Kent she just described her self as so happy it’s unbelieveably sad

  29. I am in awe. This book is amazing.

    As much as i dont wanna believe it, she does die in the end. This book really is beautifully written. It depresses me that Kent is left alone though 🙁

    And for RACHEL, she relived that same day seven times, so each day was real. She was the only one who kept remembering it.

  30. After I finished this book, my heart literally ached for an hour because it just wasn’t right that she died at the end of the book. I know that was pretty much the point of the book, that she was living her last day over and over until she was able to leave at peace… but I just couldn’t make myself believe that everything was settled. Her and kent only really kissed twice if you think about it and I feel like they should’ve gotten to explain their feelings to eachother but they didn’t. I feel that the ending was open to interpretation and I decided that she woke back up.

  31. Found this from Looks like she asked the author the same question about the ending…

    July 6, 2010: UPDATE: After chatting with Lauren Oliver here is the question I asked her about the books ending and her answer:

    ***This question goes on my spoiler page only – I am curious to know, does Samantha die in the end and Juliet live? Do you have any images beyond the book ending of Juliet and what you believe happens her beyond the pages of the book?

    Lauren: Well, in my mind, Sam dies at the start of the book; she learns over the course of the novel that although there are many things she can change around the conditions of her death, and in the moments that precede it, that is the one ultimate fact, the insurmountable barrier. And I do think it’s important for teens—and adults, for that matter—to understand that there are some things in life, some bad decisions and missteps, that can simply never be reversed. Life is not a video game, and there is no reset button.

    And yes, Juliet lives. I have many ideas about what happens to all of the characters after the conclusion of the book, but I prefer not to share them. One of the things I like best about books is that they ultimately belong to the readers as much as they do to the writer; so I’ll leave it up to you to imagine a world for Juliet and the others post-book!

  32. Now why does it say in the Prologue that before Sam dies she sees Vicky Hallinan’s face before she dies, when throughout the whole book she mentions nothing about her?!

  33. I think that she saw her when she initially “died” as her original self….once she got on the “Groundhog Day Loop” she didn’t see anything again until the end when she got things right and saved Juliet….then at that point, it was her “greatest hits”…the sweet things she did with her sister and her friends…those were the things that she saw then.

  34. Can someone enlighten me how Sam knew that the seventh day is her last? Or is it?

    I mean why does it even matter to Sam if she ‘saved’ Juliet on the seventh day? I mean Juliet does not get to live anyways. Remember, she killed herself after the party. So it’s her destiny to die. No point in saving at all. They BOTH DIE eventually.

    These are just some of my thoughts regarding the book. Though I really liked it- the characterization, the entirety of it- I’m still boggled with the ‘saving-Juliet-ending’.

  35. The author stated in an interview that Juliet lives.

    “And yes, Juliet lives. I have many ideas about what happens to all of the characters after the conclusion of the book, but I prefer not to share them.” It’s posted a couple of comments up.

    I don’t think that Sam knew it was seven days….it just took seven days for her to come to the realization that she wasn’t supposed to save herself. She was supposed to save Juliet…she saved herself by coming to terms with herself…coming to love moments with her family, sister, friends…doing a ton of “growing up”…..the Sam she was at the start of the book was a 180 compared to the one at the end. Once she “made things right” she was released from the loop on into what comes next. At least that’s just my humble opinion. I WISH the author had done a longer epi!

  36. As much as I wish I could say Sam lived I don’t think she did . . .it took me a few rereads of the ending to figure out if she actually died or not but after I read it the fifth time I realized that she died . I really do wish that it ended happily but at the same time I realize life doesn’t have happy endings . I think that’s what Lauren was trying to establish , a realistic ending . All though Sam seemed to be generally happy in the end because she had accomplised what she felt was her task . I do agree that it was a very bittersweet ending .I would of enjoyed an ending that had a bit . . . More . More explanation .

  37. Honestly, i like to put things in my own perspective. That maybe, just maybe. Sam didn’t die? and that those days were just to get to to accept the little things in life and rejoice over them. I loved this book, but i hated the ending. I hate when books kill off the main character. So, to save myself from hating this amazing book. I believe that she didn’t die, and those “voices” were Kent waking her up from when she was sleeping…correct me if I’m wrong on this. But the book did end while she was sleeping right? Because i read it on my I-pod and found it within another book. But anyways, for the people that don’t believe she is dead. I’m with you on that. I actually cried to this book, because Ebony was one of my favorite characters, she was just a fun-loving person. Even though kind of a trollop. I still loved her, i loved every person in this book. When i read this I was thinking of other ways she could have done things, or what I would’ve done if i were in her shoes, but i like the ending. Even if she did die (which i pray to God she didn’t ) it was still a good book. First book ive read in a couple months actually!

  38. Why does it say in the prologue that before Samantha dies she sees Vicky Hallinan’s face before she dies, when throughout the whole book she mentions nothing about her?

  39. I was just wondering if anyone knew samantha’s age? 🙂 i have to write a report but can’t find it in the book. Either it’s not mentioned (which is unlikely) or i’m really not looking well enough (very likely).

    Thanks, would appreciate if anyone can answer!!

  40. I love this book, and I noticed alot of people didn’t understand the end. I think that she’s finally seeing the light in the situation, opening her eyes to the world, and seeing that there is beauty, there is more to life that drugs and drinks and popularity and parties. She made her lemonade. She has found the solution.

    That’s just my opinion…

  41. I think that Sam does indeed die at the end, but in an ambulance. She sees 3 faces which I believe to be Kent, Lindsay, and someone else (Elody, Ally, or Juliet). The red and white flashes belong to an ambulance. The face above hers is Juliet, cool and dry because they are out of the rain…and Juliet is the last person that Sam sees alive.

  42. @shaylee
    The reason why she mentions the girl is because everyone picks on her and basically Juliet is similar to her because everyone bullies her and makes fun of her and when Sam died she thought back of the people who were bullied, people like Juliet and what they might’ve been going through

  43. I really liked this book! I’m a slow reader so it did take me a while, especially because I thought it went really slow from about the 2nd-4th day before it starts involving Juliet more. I do not really understand the ending-and from the rest of the comments here I can tell I’m not alone. I’d like to believe Sam and Juliet both survived, but it’s hard to tell from the ending. There are phrases that make it seem like she died and phrases that make it seem like she survived. I liked the way Sam developed as a character and made the reader rethink the way they live their life. As much as I did like the book, I still don’t understand the concept of the days repeating. It seems like Juliet and Sam both die on the first and last days, so why do the days repeat if it ends the same way? Also, why do the days still repeat even when she doesn’t die at the end of the day, for example when she sleeps at Kent’s house or at Ally’s house? And why does time extend past 12:39 on the night she sleeps at Ally’s house but the day resets anyway? Just a few things I was curious about, but otherwise I overall enjoyed the book alot.

  44. This book changed me. It really shows how high school really is, what it’s really like, how it works. My favourite thing about it is how Sam describes popularity. i
    I just really love it. Even though, it looks like some crappy teen novel, it’s really not. AT ALL.

  45. THis is the ending: Sam dies in the end and Juliet lives

    The reason Sam died an d went throuh all of this was because God (or some divine person) wanted her to die as a hero instead of dying as a drunk girl coming home from a party after dumping her drink on juliet. The reason juliet said “ou saved me, no the opposite” was to show that Juliet dodnt want to die, at least at that moment when she said “you saved me” but then quickly corrects herself as she realizes that her suicide attempt failed. (“no, the opposite.”) THis way, perhaps Juliet was meant to live a happier life now that she realized that someone cared enpough about her. (you saved me” could have an even deeper meaning that even Juliet is not aware of). Sam was able to die a heroic (though tragic) death, as opposed to an accident. the mentioning of the halo above juliet’s head was basically sam’s rise to heaven: perhaps she was forced to go through all of this to enter heaven instead of hell. the angel/halo thing at the end also shows that juliet’s beauty and how she has changed; she is willing to live again.

    I hope this clears things up for those of you wondering about the ending.

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