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all hearthfires & holocausts

eating books. bleeding words.

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R.J. Palacio
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Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver Lauren Oliver writes beautifully. Many times, I found myself stopping and rereading passages, just for the beauty of the words in my head and the images they invoked. Her words are amazingly rich and descriptive and pull you right into the moment. Though at times it was a little too reminiscent of Mean Girls for me, her take on the social hierarchy of high school was so on point--the cliques, the labels, the backstories, the nicknames, the traditions that just are, whether they're true or not. The tunnel vision most high schoolers have, the desperation of just making it through the day with their lives intact. High school is like living through Lord of the fucking Flies every single day, whether you're in the cool crowd or not. But though the high school world Oliver created seemed a little cookie cutter--in the way that all high schools are the same, I suppose--it all felt so human. Realistic.I liked Sam's evolution, the realizations and the stages as she tried to deal with her confusion, her grief, her panic. I think we can all identify in some way with each stage of death she lived through. I must admit the ending left me a little shell-shocked and a lot confused. I scrambled to reread the last few pages to see if I'd missed something. It makes sense, but it all felt so quick. There was a, "wait--that's it?" moment when I finished. I wish there had been a bit more to the ending. I'm not one for big tied-with-a-bow cheesy endings for the most part, but I wanted a little more closure with this. Who, other than Sam, learned anything? Won't things go on exactly the same now? No one but her came to any kind of epiphany. Sure, perhaps her death will change things, but we don't get to know that. Perhaps that's the point.