BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, March 2010) at the outset seems to be a YA version of "Groundhog Day." Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, since I love that movie. Samantha (Sam for short) is both looking forward to and dreading Valentine's Day. She hopes to garner plenty of roses in the annual Cupid Day event at school (popularity=number of roses each girl receives). She has promised her boyfriend that she will finally consummate their relationship that evening as well. Things do not go according to plan, however, and the evening ends with an accident that kills Sam.
But, wait, the next thing she is aware of is waking up in her own bed. Was it all a dream? Is she still alive? What is going on? At first, Samantha is willing to chalk it all up to deja vu. However, before too long she is certain that there is more to her "dream." Sam relives her final day over and over again in an attempt to change the outcome.
No, this is decidedly NOT "Groundhog Day." Rather, it is an interesting examination of how all of the minute decisions we make have far-reaching consequences (think butterflies in one part of the world causing weather changes in another). Sam is a fairly typical rather self-absorbed teen. She learns (slowly) that even when she does not participate in a particular cruelty she is indeed a mute witness and, therefore, a passive participant.
Since I am still making stepstools and ladders, I jotted down some titles I thought would tie nicely to this one: BEFORE I DIE, LONG WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW, and ELSEWHERE.