Before I Fall Summary

Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall

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Before I Fall Summary

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Before I Fall is narrated by high school senior Samantha “Sam” Kingston, though with a twist. In the prologue, the reader finds that Sam has died from a car crash, and is telling her story now from the afterlife. The story begins with Cupid’s Day, the most exciting day of the year for Sam and her popular friends. After attending a party with her friends Lindsey, Ally and Elody, Sam gets into Lindsey’s car, even though all of the girls are drunk. The car crashes, and Sam dies. From this point on in the novel, Sam must relive the day of her death for the next seven days, causing her to come face-to-face with themes such as love, loss, friendship, sacrifice, and redemption. As Sam and her friends practically rule the school, albeit harshly, the themes of bullying and acceptance also come into play during Sam’s transformative seven days.

Also in the prologue, Sam mentions the most memorable aspects of her short life. The last thing she remembers about the day is laughing with her friends while they were driving in Lindsey’s car, leaving the party and seeing a flash of light, something running in front of the car, and then blackness. Though people always say they remember loved ones or specific moments, Sam remembers a girl from grade school that she and Lindsey always bullied. This recollection of bullying is a catalyst for Sam’s transformation.

On the day Sam dies, Cupid’s Day, the narrative switches from past to present tense, signaling that Sam is reliving her past. Sam, along with her friends, are concerned with how many roses they will receive for the day. To Sam and her friends, these roses signify how popular they are. Throughout the day, Sam and her friends are downright rude and nasty to many of their peers, including Juliet Sykes, a quiet, beautiful girl whom the group of popular girls have bullied since the sixth grade. Sam receives a rose from Kent, who likes her, despite their difference in social status. He invites her to his party, and though Sam and her friends find him dorky, they know they will go to the party anyway. Also, Sam is supposed to lose her virginity on Cupid’s Day, which her friends tease her about.

At Kent McFuller’s party, Sam and her friends are shocked to see Juliet Sykes arrive. Sam watches as Juliet walks up to the group of friends and, one by one, calls them each a “bitch.” Momentarily stunned, Lindsey regains her confidence and pours her beer over Juliet’s head. The girls follow suit, calling her a psycho, and soon everyone else at the party joins in, pouring their drinks over Juliet’s head and pushing her around the room until they forcibly remove her from the party. Amidst the ruckus, Sam sees Kent staring at her, horrified. His gaze disarms her, and he tells her he can see through her act. Wanting to escape Kent and the noise, Sam and her friends run outside into the rain, laughing uncontrollably. As they drive away, a white flash appears in front of the car, Lindsey swerves and crashes, and Sam dies.

When Day Two arrives, Sam wakes up, shocked. She thought she had died the day before, on Cupid’s Day. Only it is the day before: It is February 12, Cupid’s Day, and she is living it all over again. As Sam goes through the entire day, she is faced with doubt. Did she simply dream about her death the night before? Is she in fact going crazy? And yet by reliving the day, Sam finds that she actually has control over how the day will unfold.

On Day Three, Sam tries hard to alter the events of the day, thereby preventing her death. In uncharacteristic fashion, Sam is nice towards everyone and does the right thing for a change. Moreover, she convinces her friends to have a movie night rather than go to Kent’s party. Sam also begins to realize that she in fact has feelings for Kent, not Rob. Sam is relieved to see her changes take effect. She thinks her plan to alter her fate will work, and that soon, she will be facing a brand new day. As the girls convene at Ally’s house that night, Sam anxiously watches the clock. The time of her death was 12:39. When she sees the clock strike 12:40, she is overjoyed. She has managed to overcome her own death. Her glee is short-lived, however. An hour later, Ally’s mom tells the girls that Juliet Sykes has killed herself. In that moment, Sam realizes that a tradeoff of some sort must have taken place. She has lived, but Juliet has died in her place.

With Juliet’s death, Sam realizes that the two girls’ deaths are actually intertwined, and thus sets about not only trying to change her fate, but to save Juliet as well. When Day Five and Day Six arrive, Sam tries to stop Juliet from committing suicide by sending her roses at school, speaking to her at Kent’s party, and then chasing her through the woods afterwards. While chasing Juliet through the woods on Day Five, Sam realizes how Juliet killed herself. When Sam saw a flash of light right before her death in Lindsey’s car, it was actually a flash of white from Juliet’s dress as she flung herself in front of the speeding car. In other words, every time that Juliet dies, Sam dies as well.

When the final day arrives, Sam awakens with a genuine sense of peace. Though she has been trying her hardest to save both herself and Juliet, she now knows what she must do to make things right. Sam must die before Juliet in order to save Juliet from throwing herself in front of Lindsey’s car. Indeed, when the final night arrives, Sam manages to push Juliet out of the way of Lindsey’s car, gets hit instead and therefore dies in place of Juliet. With this action, Sam is no longer a selfish, self-obsessed girl. She has given her own life to save someone else, showing maturity, sacrifice and what it means to care for others.