I’m not really one to read sad books. Like, I’m not going to pick up a book version of Old Yeller or E.T. and decide that I really want to read it. I typically try to avoid all sad books whenever I can, the same way I try to avoid sad movies.
However, sometimes the sadness is impossible to escape. There are some extremely depressing parts in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I’m certainly not going to avoid those books. And sometimes the sadness just kind of creeps up without even telling me. Which is how I came to today’s book choice for those times you just need to cry.
Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall is a story about a girl (Samantha) who dies in a car accident…only to wake up and relive the same day over and over again. Seriously, it’s like the worst case of Groundhog Day ever. At the beginning of the book, Samantha is living a pretty good life: she’s pretty, popular, and has lots of friends. But then when she “dies”, she realizes that she has the chance to change things. At first she tries to change the fact that she gets into the car accident in the first place. But that doesn’t happen. And when she gets the chance to live the same day again…and again…she starts noticing and changing things about her life in general.
Each day she wakes thinking that she’ll be awake for good, that whatever is happening is just a dream, and that she’ll be able to wake up and go to school with her friends, thinking that now she can live the life she truly wants to live now that she’s seen the error of her ways. And we as readers keep hoping for her chance to live. She’s made things right. She deserves the right to live, right?
Well, I’m not going to spoil things for you, so you’ll have to read it to find out what happens in the end. But seriously, this book had me crying. Real tears, people. My heart hurt so much for her every time she was forced to “die” again, knowing that she was doing all she could to change things. And there’s a scene in the book she shares with her sister – someone she had never really paid much attention to her whole life – that is so achingly sad that I should have just skipped it altogether (well, not really, but you know what I mean).
A lot of times when I finish a book I don’t even think about it. I mean, I might think about it for a couple of seconds, but I often just close it and grab the next book in line. But this one- THIS ONE – had me thinking for a least a couple of days. I had to wait a bit before I started my next book because Before I Fall was still lingering around in my head. And that, my friends, is a sign of a pretty damn powerful book.
Just make sure you’re not reading it on your lunch hour for everyone to see your tears.
“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.”