Before I Fall is a profound read. It focuses on the idea of making right that which is wrong. As a result, you can probably find many quotes to fit this central message.
Upon learning of what will happen on Friday, February, 12, there is a sense of urgency in Sam's life. She recognizes that she does not have time on her side. This triggers a reflective capacity within her thinking as the novel progresses:
Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.
This quote captures much of Sam's character. The idea that "you never really know" illuminates the need to decrease cruelty to one another. We might not have time to atone for it. Philosophically, if people live as if "there's only today," our actions would have more meaning. There might be a chance that we leave more good than bad as our legacy if we embrace what Dr. King called, "the fierce urgency of now." Sam learns this the hard way and the quote reflects the novel's main message of fixing what is broken.
Sam ends up realizing how different she is from her clique. One instance of this is when she presses Lindsay as to her previous friendship with Juliet, a girl she now mercilessly abuses. When Sam delves into why Lindsay tormented her when Juliet stood up for her, Lindsay's thoughts constitute a really good quote: "I thought eventually she’d tell everybody what really happened.... Why didn’t she ever stick up for herself? Not once. She just—she just took it. Why?" The book suggests that one of the reasons why people do bad things to others is that they don't understand them. Lindsay does not understand why Juliet would "take it."
Sam knows why, though. Through her conversations with Lindsay, Sam understands that Juliet "took it" because she thought it was her duty as a friend. Juliet embodies a level of friendship that completely escapes Lindsay. Lindsay's quote is a reminder that there are people and behaviors around us that might go beyond what we are capable of understanding. In these moments, the best response is to think, pause, and reflect on why people do what they do. The quote highlights one of the central messages of the book in that when we understand people more, we tend to do less bad things to them.
The power of human transformation is one of the central messages of the book. From a superficial and quite cruel young person, Sam has evolved. She has become someone who recognizes the truth, albeit a bit too late. This can be best seen when she says, "It feels like I’ve reached back in time and corrected something. I haven’t felt so alive, so capable of doing things, in I don’t know how long." In erasing the graffiti that degrades Anna Cartullo, Sam has reclaimed part of her dignity.
Sam's words are a reminder of how human beings, even those who do bad things, possess the capacity to do great things. When human beings have the courage to reflect on the course of their lives, there can be a profound sense of introspection and atonement. Sam's quote reminds us that anyone can be saved.