The ending - spoilers

Discuss the February 2016 book of the month, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.
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erasmus
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Re: The ending - spoilers

Post by erasmus » 09 Feb 2016, 19:02

saturday+deviant wrote:
erasmus wrote:While I was fine with the fact that Sam died at the end, I keep wondering about what would've happened if she'd lived and her life continued, with all the consequences that came with what she did on her last day. When I think about how she would have to face her friends, her family, and her own life, I feel just a little bit... cheated. Sam escaped everything because she died. On the other hand, Sam saving Juliette was the proof and practically the pinnacle of her growth and development for her teenage years.

Honestly, I liked the ending but at the same time disappointed, and that's what I liked about this book.
I felt this same way, but I think that had less to do with having Sam die than with there being no epilogue. I would have loved to see what happened the very next day, week, year after Sam had died. I didn't hate that she did in fact die at the end though. I think if she had survived it would have felt less like real life, that her actions when she was alive had no consequences since she was able to "fix herself" and come back to life. It doesn't work that way and I wouldn't expect it to be that way in this book.
An epilogue would have been fascinating. However, I'm not so sure that Sam''s actions before or during the loop or that the consequences thereof would make it such that her death made things more realistic. I can't recall the details, really. But I feel like it could have gone either way. Even if she'd been alive at the end, and she had no consequences to face (I can't remember if this is true), Sam would still have to struggle to cope with the changes she'd made and the person she's become. Perhaps the author is trying to convey a message and could only have done so with Sam's death.
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Post by anonanemone » 10 Feb 2016, 09:49

An epilogue would have been interesting, but I'm not sure how you could include an epilogue without somehow minimizing the events that occurred through the entire book. I think the point is that anything can happen next and it is up to everyone involved and their loved ones to redeem previous actions or choose not to take a look within themselves and change their actions. I would hope that some of the last discussion that Sam had with Lindsey would force her to face herself and that Juliet's parents will get her help.
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Post by bookowlie » 10 Feb 2016, 10:04

anonanemone wrote:An epilogue would have been interesting, but I'm not sure how you could include an epilogue without somehow minimizing the events that occurred through the entire book. I think the point is that anything can happen next and it is up to everyone involved and their loved ones to redeem previous actions or choose not to take a look within themselves and change their actions. I would hope that some of the last discussion that Sam had with Lindsey would force her to face herself and that Juliet's parents will get her help.
I agree that including an epilogue might overshadow the rest of the book. The focus was on Sam and how she changed. If there were an epilogue, the focus would have to be on the other characters since Sam would already be dead.
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Post by P_hernandez » 10 Feb 2016, 13:54

My biggest issue with the end of this book was that Sam was the only person who was effected. Her friends will never know what she'd discovered about the people they went to high school with. Her parents will never know that she felt anything other than hatred and annoyance for them. (One day of a pleasant morning does not erase the fact that for years Sam drove a wedge between herself and her family.) Juliet will never know the amount of thought Sam put into deciding to save her, or that Sam spent anytime thinking of her at all. To me, because none of Sams relived efforts ever had any impact on anyone other than Sam, it seems that Lindsay, Elody, and Ally will only delve deeper into hating Juliet for Sam dying. If it weren't for Juliet trying to kill herself so dramatically, Sam never would've had to push her to safety whilst getting squished by the vans. Since not one other person had to change or grow or develop empathetic natures, Sam becomes a martyr while Juliet becomes the cause. So if you think even further than Juliets near suicide and rescue, Juliets life wasn't really saved that night; her death merely postponed. She became condemned. Can you imagine how awful high school became for her after that? The lengths Lindsay would go to make an even bigger point of Juliet being a pyscho? Perhaps Sam really did save Juliet that night. But based on Lindsays history with Juliet (and that was over dumb stuff. Peeing the bed? That's really a reason to ostracize someone and drive them to the point of near insanity?!) Lindsay would never let this go. Juliet would never live long enough to be The Girl Who Survived; The Girl Who Was Saved. She would forever become The Reason Sam Died. Infamy and grief and false truths that would float around in the whispers of people who weren't even there would haunt Juliet for the rest of her fragile life. People who are set on suicide will find a way to do so.

Which leads me to believe that Sams death was completely in vain and completely wrong. Please don't misunderstand me to say that I was a fan of Sam. I wasn't. But without the effects of all of Sams re-lived days, there wasn't any point to her death. The last good day she spent with her family, they don't remember because it was erased as soon as Sam went to sleep. So the last real day Sam gave everyone was the sassy ugliness she started with. This day? The day of her death was different, yes. But it seems, flashing forward, that it would be too little too late. In that final act to sacrifice herself to save another, Sam became a legend; a hero. And the very girl she was trying to save became a monster. She became what everyone feared and hated. She would never be the damsel in distress Sam felt inclined to push to safety. She would forever and always be Samantha Kingstons murderer. And that just doesn't seem fair.

For story purposes, I get it. The author needed a dramatic exit to wrap up this (very forced) dramatic teen life novel. But Juliet, for all her tolerances, was a better person than all 4 of those girls and deserved a little more fairness than she got.

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Post by erasmus » 11 Feb 2016, 20:10

P_hernandez wrote:My biggest issue with the end of this book was that Sam was the only person who was effected. Her friends will never know what she'd discovered about the people they went to high school with. Her parents will never know that she felt anything other than hatred and annoyance for them. (One day of a pleasant morning does not erase the fact that for years Sam drove a wedge between herself and her family.) Juliet will never know the amount of thought Sam put into deciding to save her, or that Sam spent anytime thinking of her at all. To me, because none of Sams relived efforts ever had any impact on anyone other than Sam, it seems that Lindsay, Elody, and Ally will only delve deeper into hating Juliet for Sam dying. If it weren't for Juliet trying to kill herself so dramatically, Sam never would've had to push her to safety whilst getting squished by the vans. Since not one other person had to change or grow or develop empathetic natures, Sam becomes a martyr while Juliet becomes the cause. So if you think even further than Juliets near suicide and rescue, Juliets life wasn't really saved that night; her death merely postponed. She became condemned. Can you imagine how awful high school became for her after that? The lengths Lindsay would go to make an even bigger point of Juliet being a pyscho? Perhaps Sam really did save Juliet that night. But based on Lindsays history with Juliet (and that was over dumb stuff. Peeing the bed? That's really a reason to ostracize someone and drive them to the point of near insanity?!) Lindsay would never let this go. Juliet would never live long enough to be The Girl Who Survived; The Girl Who Was Saved. She would forever become The Reason Sam Died. Infamy and grief and false truths that would float around in the whispers of people who weren't even there would haunt Juliet for the rest of her fragile life. People who are set on suicide will find a way to do so.

Which leads me to believe that Sams death was completely in vain and completely wrong. Please don't misunderstand me to say that I was a fan of Sam. I wasn't. But without the effects of all of Sams re-lived days, there wasn't any point to her death. The last good day she spent with her family, they don't remember because it was erased as soon as Sam went to sleep. So the last real day Sam gave everyone was the sassy ugliness she started with. This day? The day of her death was different, yes. But it seems, flashing forward, that it would be too little too late. In that final act to sacrifice herself to save another, Sam became a legend; a hero. And the very girl she was trying to save became a monster. She became what everyone feared and hated. She would never be the damsel in distress Sam felt inclined to push to safety. She would forever and always be Samantha Kingstons murderer. And that just doesn't seem fair.

For story purposes, I get it. The author needed a dramatic exit to wrap up this (very forced) dramatic teen life novel. But Juliet, for all her tolerances, was a better person than all 4 of those girls and deserved a little more fairness than she got.
This is a very interesting way to look at things. I would have never thought about it like this. It makes a twisted kind of sense, actually - how, in the end, Sam's efforts to save Juliette actually condemned her instead. And the only person Sam saved was herself. Poor Juliette. Thank you for sharing this unique point of view!
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Post by CrescentMoon » 12 Feb 2016, 23:28

I'm torn about the ending but mostly because I feel very sad about it. While reading the story I actually was expecting her to come back to life the whole time, but since she didn't I was surprised and I generally really like being surprised. At the same time I also found it so sad and I was just in a really depressed mood afterwards. I thought it was well written but in general I like happier endings and wish she would've lived.

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Post by Kaitlyn12 » 16 Feb 2016, 09:54

I thought it made sense that Sam died at the end. She was already "dead" to begin with and just going back and changing some things wouldn't really change the fact that you had already died. I felt like "What if she only did those things because she expected to get her life back?" Well then she didn't do them because she wanted to, she did them because she had to in order to gain something.

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Post by KAV » 16 Feb 2016, 13:39

I agree with the epilogue comment completely. There should have been more explanation at the end of the book saying that her friends understood why it happened. I was left with the feeling that nothing was accomplished after Sam sacrificed herself because of the current ending. Her friends will be traumatized but not understand why she did it. Knowing Lindsay's personality, she still isn't going to confess to wetting the bed in 5th grade. Juliette is still going to be made fun of by everyone, except now she is going to be blamed for the death of Sam. That is just one more thing to add to her conscious. I feel like with this ending, Juliette is still going to commit suicide.

Also, Kent is going to be messed up for a while. If Sam were really thinking about others before sacrificing herself, she would have never gotten Kent involved. Think about it from his perspective: the girl you have been in love with your whole life finally kisses you, then commits suicide.

Awful ending! It ruined the book for me.

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Post by anonanemone » 16 Feb 2016, 18:04

That is one aspect that had been bothering me, KAV. Sam knowingly led Kent on so she could enjoy herself on her last day with the foreknowledge that she would 'sacrifice' herself that day. It seems like enough to break him. Her care for Kent was not sufficient to spare him the heartache.

I would say that it is questionable whether anyone is actually saved or redeemed anywhere in this book, but one thing that is not questionable is that it really makes you think.
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Post by L_Therese » 17 Feb 2016, 23:56

When a teenager dies, the whole school mourns. Suicide, accident, or illness, for most of the unfortunate student's classmates, it is their first encounter with death, and this tends to make a pretty deep impression. In this case, Sam's choices on her last day might set the tone of her legacy, which would definitely leave a significant impression on her peers (at least for a while). Every act of kindness, every person to whom she reached out, and every act of bullying that she was able to stop would hopefully cause some of her peers to reevaluate their actions. An epilogue would be a way the author could have shown the reader the kind of ripple effect that Sam might have caused, but there's an appropriateness to the mystery as well. Sam had the chance to consciously orchestrate her legacy, to choose her last actions before death. She didn't get to know what would happen the next day or the day after that. In real life, we choose our actions daily, but we rarely have foreknowledge of which day is our last, and we can't know the ripples that we might cause tomorrow, next week, next year, or thirty years from now.

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Post by P_hernandez » 18 Feb 2016, 00:36

This school though was known for its suicide rates. With the emphasis placed on how common suicide was there it seems like the death part wouldn't be as shocking as the name of the person who died. Idk. Just my thoughts :)

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Post by MatthewAlexander » 18 Feb 2016, 21:12

I personally didn't mind the ending. In a way, Sam could have continued to live her life forever if she chose to, the only catch being that it would be the same day over and over. Instead, she makes things right, makes a point of figuring out what happened and what she could do to fix it. Instead of choosing to live guilty, she chooses to die having set things straight. Not only that, but I live the spin Oliver took on death. I expected her to try and explain what it was life, which would end up cheesy and probably a little dumb, but no one knows what it's like to die. Instead, she left it open ended. The ending didn't leave me disappointed in the least bit.

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Post by anonanemone » 19 Feb 2016, 10:25

P_hernandez wrote:This school though was known for its suicide rates. With the emphasis placed on how common suicide was there it seems like the death part wouldn't be as shocking as the name of the person who died. Idk. Just my thoughts :)
It was pretty appalling how blasé Sam was when she was considering the suicide rate at the school. I think it doesn't help that statistics can be hard to wrap your head around in terms of human suffering.
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Post by P_hernandez » 19 Feb 2016, 12:49

Yeah I felt the same way. But considering her age and her lack of empathy, it makes sense that she, along with the majority of the other students, would compartmentalize the statistics. A shocking instance is only shocking when it's rare and unique. When it becomes almost mainstream it loses its shock value.

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Post by chytach18- » 20 Feb 2016, 06:19

I agree with Scott - Sam chose to die. The way Sam's life was ending reminds me another book Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. However, the rest of the book reminds me Carrie by Stephen King. Strange.

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