Parents' Guide to

Before I Fall

By Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

From suicide to bullying, every tough teen topic is present.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 14+

Deals with important topics, but gets boring

Well, maybe my description of boring could be expected. The main character lives the same day over and over again, as stated on the back cover, which honestly gets to be a bit of a drag by the third day. However, I think this book important because it deals with bullying and the results that can come of it. In the beginning, the main character, Sam Kingston, is just another annoying popular girl who disrespects everybody she comes across because, as she says early on, you can just ‘get away with things’ if you’re popular. Towards the end, though, she realizes the error of her ways and try’s her best to make them right. I would say that this does have some level of social educational value, as bullying is a serious issue that people don’t really know what to do with. I don’t know so much about positive messages. This book talks a little about how the characters had to change themselves to fit in and be popular, which isn’t a great message to be sending. There are few positive role models in this book. Sam’s friends are frequently unkind towards their classmates, and Sam’s boyfriend Rob is a total entitled jerk who thinks he’s better than Sam and has told her so. Sam herself is a snob for the majority of the story, but towards the end tries to be a good person. The only real role model in this story is Sam’s friend Kent, who is kind and supportive towards Sam, even though she isn’t to him. There is some violence in this novel. There are car crashes and talk about suicide with a gun, but nothing worse than other young adult novels out there these days. There is a lot of talk about sex in this novel. The main character plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, and there is a lot of kissing throughout the novel. The characters curse quite a bit throughout this book. A lot of brands are names. Most of the characters drink, Sam’s best friend Lindsay smokes all the time, and at one point in the story pot is smoked in the bathroom. I personally don’t like this novel, but it could be an interesting and romantic approach to death and the afterlife.
age 16+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (59 ):

Oliver vividly draws a picture of the devastating damage done by bullying, while exploring the ease with which some teens turn a blind eye to such behavior. Watching one's self, or reliving death, is not a new concept in young adult literature, and here the tough issues inherent in the topic are bandied about as often as teens talk keggers and designer duds. But the author does a nice job of exploring the decision to lose one's virginity; and also discovering that all actions have consequences -- although Sam and her friends might be a little old to be making that particular discovery.

The treatment of bullying and its impact, the motivations behind the bullying, and the reasons other kids tacitly accept it is one topic that can't be portrayed too often in books for teens and Oliver gives it a great twist by not trying to make Sam and her friends likable from the start. Her perspective makes the book more realistic and immediate, and makes Sam's ultimate bid for redemption stronger and sadder. The suicide of a classmate is searingly explored and will be the most memorable aspect of the book.

Book Details

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