Before I Fall Summary

Before I fall is a novel by Lauren Oliver in which Sam Kingston relives the day of her own death and reflects on how her cruel actions have impacted others.

  • On February 12th, Sam and her friends ruthlessly bully Juliet Sykes. Juliet then commits suicide by jumping in front of their car, resulting in the deaths of Juliet and the car's passengers.  
  • Sam relives the events of February 12th several times. At first, she tries to save her own life. However, she eventually realizes that Juliet is the real victim.
  • Sam atones for her actions by sacrificing herself in order to save Juliet.

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2480

Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall begins with Sam Kingston’s death. Sam tells her three friends—Lindsay, Elody, and Ally—that she thinks people probably see the greatest moments of their life flash before their eyes when they die. Then Lindsay crashes her car, and Sam sees something else entirely: a moment in fourth grade when she, Lindsay, and several other kids made fun of a fat girl. That image floats in front of her through the pain and fear and fire—and then there is nothing.

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The story flashes back to the last day of Sam’s life. In the morning, she rushes out of the house, pushing her little sister aside as she goes. Sam rides to school with her three best friends. Led by Lindsay, these four girls are the most popular seniors at school, and they can get away with anything. Today is Cupid Day, a school Valentine’s Day event. They each receive roses from all of their friends, and they are all proud that they have collected more roses than most of their classmates have.

Cruelty has been a part of Lindsay and Sam’s relationship since elementary school, when Sam was one of Lindsay’s many targets. Since the two girls became friends in seventh grade, Sam has gone along with every cruel inspiration her friend has dreamt up. Today she participates in teasing Amy Cartullo for being “white trash” and “a whore.” She also taunts Juliet Sykes, Lindsay’s oldest and most consistent victim, for being a friendless “psycho.”

During school, Sam receives a rose and a party invitation from Kent, a geek who has had a crush on her for years. In the evening, she and her friends get drunk and go to the party. Juliet Sykes stalks up to them and says, “You’re a bitch,” to each of the girls in turn. The four girls are momentarily stunned because Juliet has never fought them before. Then Lindsay shoves Juliet, and everyone else in the room rushes to copy her. They shove Juliet back and forth and pour out their drinks on her. Kent sees this happening, and he is obviously disgusted.

Sam had plans to lose her virginity tonight with her boyfriend, Rob, but Rob is throwing up in Kent’s sink, so Sam leaves with her friends. Lindsay drives, and Sam rides shotgun. She and the others shove each other around, jostling for space and access to the radio. Then Lindsay says something Sam does not quite hear—“like s**t or sit or sight”—and the car spins out of control. Sam hears a loud noise and feels heat and “pain bigger than anything.” Before everything goes black, she spends a few seconds feeling regret about that moment back in fourth grade.

Sam has a dream that she is falling. She is terrified—but then she hears her alarm. She sits up in bed, shocked and shaking, wondering how she got home after the crash. Then she learns from her little sister, Izzy, that it is not Saturday, February 13, the day after the crash. It is Friday, February 12. It is a day she already lived—the day she died.

Sam worries that people will think she is crazy if she confesses what is going on, so she tries to go through the day as usual. She pursues her day the same way, including teasing Juliet and Anna. However, she is more reflective this time, and she notices that other kids copy...

(The entire section contains 2480 words.)

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