If the plot of Oliver’s debut novel suggests at first glance Groundhog Day (high school senior Samantha relives the day of her death again and again), it quickly becomes clear that this is a very different kind of story. Samantha’s death may be inevitable, but the changes that result from her choices each day say so much about what it means to be alive.
The book focuses on popular Samantha Kingston who dies in a car accident, which should be the end of things. But Samantha wakes up the next morning to relive the day again. And again. And again. Each new day Samantha tries to change her future, and as she explores the different possibilities of her final day, the people involved become different. Samantha realises her life is not at all what she thought, but maybe it can be something different. This multi-layered book has been described as Groundhog Day meets The Lovely Bones and it is easy to see why.
Oliver can really write and I look forward to reading her next novel Delirium. Before I Fall is a haunting and memorable novel for older teens and I imagine a film version is inevitable. It is a book well worth seeking out.