Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Swimming Pool Read: Before I Fall

A teen novel, perfect for spending a few hours in the blazing hot sun of Spain, resting by the swimming pool still dripping from occasionaly jumping in the cool water.

When we were getting ready to go to Spain, by car no less, I was searching frantically through my vast home library for a few books I could tag along.
I wasn't going to take the risk of using my e-reader in that little place of sunshine, since last year it killed my previous e-reader. It was brought along, but mostly to spend the hours in the hotel room when the little munchkin was trying to fall asleep and we waited until my husband and me could spend some time on the balcony. It's a plus that I have a light on that e-reader of mine, or that time would've lasted forever.

So, to get back on topic, I chose Before I Fall over other, maybe better of mature novels, because it intrigued me. The topic of having a chance to come back after you died was good enough for me to buy the book and Spain was the best excuse to start reading it after it sat morosely on one of my shelfs for a few years.

As I said before, Before I Fall, is a YA novel, but instead of being overly romanticed, it's deals with teens at their worst. Instead of trying to find the perfect boyfriend and swooning over him, being perfect but not realising it themselves, Before I Fall, introduces a pack of four friends. Lindsay, Ally, Elody and Samantha are the popular girls in school and sebsequently its mean girls also.
It seems that kids growing up in America's high schools have to deal with this kind of behaviour most of the time. The popular kids raiding and thriving on the backs of their less fortunate school mates.
For this I'm glad I didn't go to school in such an environment.
Sure, bullying is everywhere, but in my school it never went that far as to undermine students minds and feelings.

But back to the book, Before I Fall, chooses the perspective of one of those bullies. To soften that point of view, Samantha has been bullied herself before she got included in the pack of Wolves lead by Lindsay.
You follow them on a regular friday, nothing special, except that it's Cupid Day (Valentine's Day) which is merely a contest for seeing who has the most friends, something I don't think is wise for that school to participate in. The four girlfriends go to school and later on they head to a party, which ends cathastrophically.

That's where the premise of the novel starts. As Samantha thinks she's dying, she ends up awake again on the morning of that particular Friday.
While I mistakenly though she only got the one day to make amence, she ultimately goes to that same day several times, each dealing with a new phase of handling with grief.
She does try to correct her behaviour and sees her own actions with more responsibility than before and I liked some of the changes she made.

In the end, when I read the final words, I expected to be teared up, but I wasn't. It's probably because I can't relate to whatever hell these four could put others through. I've always had friends, I've been bullied, but not severely and not for an extended period of time. We didn't have a popular crowd, we all kind of hung together, but maybe it's different in other schools. I went to a fairly small one, in a small community.

So, Before I Fall, was written well and the topic was handled with care, without getting mushy. It was, in fact, in some points probably a wake up call for those high school queens out there that their actions can have consequences, although the many schootings in such high schools should be warning enough.

I think Lauren Oliver did a great job and even though I didn't have the right experience and the age to enjoy this novel more, I still think it's one of the best YA novels I've read in a long while.