02-11-2010 07:53 PM
I'm glad to say that I have finished your book. I love the idea of the story and how you set it up. But, I think you need to have it edited a few times before it's published. There were many errors as I read. Most of them were just conventions, and some, you repeated a word twice. Sometimes, I would get lost in the sentences, and I didn't fully understand what you ment. If you're interested in knowing what pages have the errors, I have marked them. I also didn't like that you repeated the prologue in the first chapter. I also didn't like how you ended the book. It didn't give me the sense of closure that I look for in books.Those were the cons. The pros: I loved the story, I loved the characters, especially Kent . I like Juliet also. The growth of the character was awesome. The scenes, a bit repetitive, but unique. It was awesome.
02-12-2010 02:39 PM
I want to thank you for allowing us the oportunity to get a sneak peek at this book! This book was really a fantastic read and I'm glad I got the chance to read it! I loved not only was it a good story to read, but I also felt that the story also taught the reader a little bit about what is important in life. I may not of necessarily picked this book up had it not been a First Look selection, but I'm really glad I did! I am going to make sure to pass along how great this book is so my friends will check it out!
02-12-2010 07:42 PM - edited 02-12-2010 07:46 PM
Well, you achieved your goal, at least with me. I have never read a book where I hated the main character so much, let alone one where I hated them through most of the book but by end, loved(Does that even make sense?). Also, I love the way you write. You allow the readers to see the other characters only as Sam does. It is like at the beginning of the book, she only sees them through a peep whole, and so do the readers. But as she learns more about them, more of the truth, the peep whole grows larger and larger until it becomes a door, in which that she chooses to walk through, ending in saving Juliet's life, in exchange for her own. Also, while reading it, you can see, almost feel, Sam growing, and realizing "It was never about saving my life. At least, not in the way that I thought." There is such truth in this book, on life, on ways people see things, and on how we never truly know a person, until we see every part of their lives, walk 2 moons in their moccasins. However, there is a rare chance of this, because most of the time we only see them in a certain instance, for example, school. And that even if it is just this small instance, everything we do can effect their whole lives.
Thank you for this book! It turned out to be one of my favorites. Keep Writing!
02-12-2010 10:11 PM
I am happy that I got the chance to read this book.
Would I have picked it up on my own were it not a B&N First Look? Maybe some time, but probably not.
But like your book showed so well, a million different little things changed that and I am genuinely greatful that it did come into my hands.
Your letter touched on several of the reasons why:
1) I did hate Lindsay, Ally, Elody, and Sam. Of course I knew and even still know people like them. But the evolution of Sam and her revelaions on everything's connectedness let me as a reader evolve along with her, in my feelings for her, and even Lindsay which let me tell you is a tough sell.
2) Your observations of daily life and ability to write them in a succinct way that conveys the very essence of that thing being described, that moment, or that soo familiar detail is simply incredible.
From the begginning, I was taken with how you captured things that really happen (to all of us) just perfectly.
Like on p. 38 when Sam explains her "secrets" about what she really thinks about Rob's kisses. You get the characters so right, down to the "unofficial" H.S. dress code of New Balance sneakers and Northface. And how something that seems so life-or-death important in H.S. like "Cupid Day", is something that mature individuals can see through for how important it really is, which is so not life-or-death.
3) I know that Sam's experience is sorta like the movies Groundhog Day or Sliding Doors but really thats only a fraction of it. The amazing insight and realistic events/people/conversations in your book are extraordinary, and even eery.
I really love Before I Fall. Congratulations on writing something so amazing, and thank you and B&N for sharing
And so beguile thy sorrow."
~Titus Andronicus, Act IV, Scene 1: Shakespeare
02-12-2010 10:15 PM
and how crazy is it that I finished and am posting about this book on Feb 12? LOL
And so beguile thy sorrow."
~Titus Andronicus, Act IV, Scene 1: Shakespeare
02-13-2010 02:22 PM
Although I really enjoyed reading this book I found the ending to be unsuitable for the very audience it was written for, YA.
Is the author aware that the highest incidence of teen suicide is in the summer between high school graduation and "the rest of their life"? Juliet, in real life, would succeed in taking her own life.
02-13-2010 02:24 PM
Like most readers on here, I read your book in a span of a couple days. And you are right, I initially didn't like the book very much, but obviously couldn't tear myself away from it! It wasn't that I disliked Sam and her friends terribly, it was more that you succeeded in portraying those hormonal years of highschool so well. I repeatedly experienced flashbacks to those times when feelings on insecurity or hopes of being recognized were predominant.
Your book also reminded me of the recent hit "Time Traveler's WIfe", in the respect that I felt the urgent need to finish the book, even though deep down I knew it wouldn't have the ultimate happy ending we all hoped for. Although tragic, I hope your book succeeds in perhaps revealing, or rather reminding, what is so important in life. Not to totally forget those shallow necessities, but instead enjoy them for what they are worth, but remembering to enjoy what really matters in life. Even if it is the mother who should cross the forbidden bedroom doorway. We need to accept our voices, even if there is a lisp. After all, isn't that what makes us unique?
Thank you for writing a book that not only gets our YA to read, but also sends a message.
02-14-2010 12:39 PM
First, I want to say I did enjoy the book in terms of the concept of the story. The book is engaging, and told in a way that makes it very easy to sit down and finish it within two days, which is always a good thing. I think there are good lessons within the book, particularly in how it shows that actions or decisions that may seem little and/or insignificant to you can, in turn, effect other people in big ways. I am a big believer in the concept of respect and I think that it is something that we are slowly drifting away from. Learning to live and let live, without falling into judgmental thinking is hard for anyone, and I think, especially for teenagers, who don't quite understand that there is life after high school and most of what occurs then will turn meaningless very quickly. Of course, there is a maturity issue here as well, but still, it is difficult to rationalize the way teenagers tend to treat each in the high school hierarchy.
Anyways, I think that your ability to make the characters completely disagreeable in the beginning of the book is a result of wonderful writing. So Bravo. Yes, I hated them, but, truth be told, I didn't like them much more in the end either. No offense. Beyond Sam, the other three girls hardly changed at all. Yes, we learn more about them and their histories, but to me, it is just a big so what? That doesn't make what they do or how they treat other people any better, nor does it make it excusable. The only thing you really see here for them is how much they hate themselves. And unfortunately, I think some of that is their parents fault, especially with Elody and Lindsey, maybe not so much for Ally.
Sam on the other hand, while I disliked her greatly in the beginning, she was only mediocre by the end. She is the one I felt the most sorry for, AND she really had no reason to be the way she was. She had a good family that cared about her, she had friends that cared for her, she had things she liked doing that she also sacrificed for the need to be popular. It is a bit of too little too late with her. Technically speaking, she would have died that first night, as the person she is. You don't get a 2nd chance with death, much less 6 more chances, to make things right. So I am hoping that people see that there is a lesson here to treat people respectfully from day one and that bringing yourself up at the expense of bringing others down is a cowardly way of doing things.
In the end though,I do love the book for exactly this reason that you stated in your post:
"But above all, it’s a novel about change. Sam grows and becomes better, as I believe we can all grow and become better, no matter what our circumstances."
There is always the ability for change, and there is always hope that it is for the better. But hopefully still, it happens before it becomes too late... So live the best you can and treat yourself and others so that the possibility of regrets is small.
Thanks again for a great book. I did enjoy it!
02-15-2010 02:58 PM - edited 02-15-2010 03:15 PM
Dear Lauren Oliver,
I wanted to tell you that your wishes came true. I have never disliked anyone or any group of people as much as I disliked Sam and her friends. I had a haaaaaard time trying to get through the first few chapters, having to deal with the same girls over and over again. I have, though, come across with a few people that are just as close to them in character. 11th grade was one of the worst of my high school years and I wouldn't want to repeat it. I won't get into the details, but just know that it was a group of boys and they went as far to pushing my buttons so that they made me cry.
I ended up loving Sam at the end of the novel. I felt that she finally got herself away from herself. She was able to love her friends even more (even though I had issues conforming to it), she was able to save a life, and she was able to at least touch true love (from Kent and from her family). I will miss her dearly. To tell you the truth I was in denial that she was going to die, even though it was made clear that she was as she narrated the novel. Thank you for this excellent book. I will treasure it always and spread the word when it comes out.
Lots of Love,
Jessica T. ^_^
02-17-2010 09:23 AM
I've been staying quiet in the rest of the discussions because I've already finished the book and don't want to reveal a spoiler. As an adult reader, I didn't have such a polarizing view of Sam and her friends early on. I'm grateful for the interior monologue of Sam because even as she and her friends did reprehensible things, there were inklings she knew they were wrong. Teenagers are careless of other's emotions because they have a different perspective on time. High school is interminable for most. Yes, Sam and her friends were mean, and even cruel at times, but, most importantly, they were real. The novel is an honest look at the popular crowd, flaws and all. There are far too many young adult novels told through the point of view of the shy, smart, girl with inner beauty and her knock-out best friend. This novel is different, and I liked it. I liked its honesty most of all.
02-17-2010 07:50 PM
I really loved this book. I think you captured high school very well (I say this as a current high schooler, so this is a big compliment--sometimes authors try to write this romantic version of high school, which is sweet but not at all true) and I liked the way the story progressed. I have to say, I did not hate Sam or her friends. Sure, they were mean and superficial, but I found them to be more group absorbed than self absorbed. They loved each other; their whole lives really focused around their friends. While that isn't exactly an admirable quality, it made them much more relatable to me.
However, I think you did a great job, and the story line is good whether or not I hate Sam and her friends. Thanks for this opportunity!
02-20-2010 03:10 PM
I am so thankful for the opportunity to read this one! I was drawn into the story from the first page. Although, I have to say the story made me so thankful that I am not in high school anymore.
I think it offers some good points for reflection for teens and parents. As a parent, I think I reflected on the chapter where she stays home with her family. It amazed me how out of touch her parents were... not that it was their fault per se, but as parents we don't see some of the underlying politics that our kids deal with daily. As she realizes her friendships are not as strong as before, she is unable to confide in them due to their positive views of her friends. I was so lucky to be able to share anything with my parents and they were always so involved, but I can recall times where I felt like Sam did... that my parents did not understand or that I thought that they would take the other side rather than seeing it from my point of view.
I loved the idea of reliving the day and how the story illustrated how each event had a ripple effect on the next event. It truly displayed in a wonderfully readable way how our actions affect others.
02-20-2010 09:21 PM
You are so right about the list that you made about what they don't teach our children in school. It is so very sad to read the headlines every day and read about how our children are acting and treating each other. I could go on with all of the bad but I still hold out hope that we can make a difference with our young people.
02-20-2010 09:27 PM
I just wanted you to know that after reading your first publish book that I really liked your writing style. Yes I understood that the story was a sad story about being young and in high school. When I was in my senior year I remember girls just like these girls in this story and this was almost 39 years ago. Since then I have ran into some of these same people and they remember me and I haven’t given then any thought after leaving high school. They go don’t you remember me we went to the same high school. What they don’t realize is that I was never trying to fit into any group at all. They were so into their group and trying to be cool etc. These people in this story remind me of the same type of people and that is so sad. I didn't’t dislike any of the people in this book because it was a story true to life. It is a story that I feel that so many people reading this book will maybe rethink about how they treat people. Because reading the headline in today news that there is so many young people that they are having the same problem as the people in this story. What I would like to also add is for you to keep on writing this was a great read.
02-21-2010 08:52 PM
I have to tell you: both hoped have been realized: at least for me.
I almost didn't hang on through the first chapter, I was that annoyed and irritated by Samantha and her friends. I would love to say that I have never met people like them. Unfortunately, I remember being on the receiving end of that kind of torment.
Thankfully, I held on through the rest of the book. And I must say, brava! The development of the characters is phenominal throughout the novel. I did end the novel loving Sam. While I may not have liked her friends much more at then end then I did at the beginning, I certainly did understand them more. It made me look back at those girls like them with whom I went to high school and wonder if their charmed lives weren't as pristine as I once thought.
MY hope is that in reading your novel, teens on both sides of the coin will come to a better understanding and a need to be just a little nicer to one another.
03-05-2010 10:05 PM
I just finished reading this book and wow, you have amazed in some many ways. This is the second book I've read in this years that touches the subject of the effects of your actions and how can only one can cause a single avalanche that can change a person life.
Thanks for writting something with meaning and when you read books like this it makes you hope that there are still writers out there who thinks out of the box and don't let trends guide what they want to write...
Thank you,Thank you!!
You touched the heart of panamanian young woman!
03-05-2010 10:12 PM
Dear Ms. Oliver,
First off, thank you for participating in First Look. I had a superb time reading your book, and I have to say, you've displayed your hopes beautifully in this book, because I what you described above is exactly how I felt.
Sam is the type of person I absolutely hate, self-centered and cruel. But watching her change was moving, especially when she spent the day with her little sister, that was sweet and it is what all of us should do with our little siblings, however, in reality it happens slim to none.
I thought the ending of the novel was great, and I'm satisfied with the conclusion you chose.
Thank you again and I wish you the best of luck in your future writing.
— Groucho Marx
04-22-2010 11:53 AM
What I really liked about this book is that it has that ribbon of fantasy/sci-fi (reliving the day over and over) but it is really set in our own world, and is relatable. This is the kind of story that I can really get into and think a lot about.
The characters are people we've all met. Sam's attempts to make things right are so believable. I would totally have given Juliet roses - and it would have been such a mistake. Sam's learning curve was fascinating and very much mirrors what would have been my own.
I like - and yet am frustrated by - the way we don't know what happens at the end. Where does Sam go? Which day is the one that "really" happened? What about afterlife? We don't know in our world, and we don't know in Sam's world. Satisfying, but not, all at the same time.