Before I Fall

Grade Level: 
8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Keywords: 
Act of Kindness
Bullying
Problem Solving
by Lauren Oliver Reading Level: Ages 12+ This guide was written by teens for teens to accompany the reading of this "resilience literature." The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions to guide reading comprehension and promote dialogue about issues of resilience, trust, independence, family, and community. This guide was written as an assignment in Mrs. Gresham's 11th grade literature class, and includes suggestions for community engagement.

This literature guide was created as part of an 11th grade project at Castle Park High School in Indiana. The students chose the book to read, produced a video book talk (link below) and wrote the following questions and project ideas to stimulate thought and action about real issues.

Book Talk for Before I Fall

Pre-Reading

Questions:

  1. If you could relive something in your life what would it be? Explain why.
  2. What holiday means the most to you? Explain why.
  3. If you could live one day over what would it be? Explain why?
  4. Is there acceptance of all students at your school? What would you change about the way students treat each other? Why?

During Reading

Questions:

  1. In the first section, why do Sam’s friends think she was quiet and didn’t want to go to the party? What’s the real reason behind her actions?  
  2. In section four, why does Sam act and dress the way she does? How does everyone around her react? (Give four examples.)
  3. How are the scenarios changing for Sam? How does the scenario change as Sam goes through the day?
  4. What happens to Sam in the party in section four? Explain how her views change about her friends and other people she previously didn’t like.
  5. When Sam meets Juliet’s younger sister, Marian, how does she change her way of thinking toward Juliet?
  6. Describe how the people act at Thomas Jefferson High. How are the "unpopular" people treated?
  7. How is Thomas Jefferson High like and unlike your school?
  8. What does Cupid's Day actually represent to the students at Thomas Jefferson? Why is the number of roses so important?
  9. What does Sammy think about death when she dies? What does she say?
  10. What happens between Juliet and everyone at Kent's party? What does this tell you about all of the party goers?
  11. Why doesn’t Juliet trust Sam? Why does she get upset when she finds out that it was Sam that sent her all of the roses?
  12. How do people develop trust, and why is trust important in a community?
  13. What happened between Juliet and Lindsay when they were younger? Why did they stop being friends?
  14. What does Sam come to realize about Lindsay? What do they talk about shortly after that realization?
  15. What does Sam think about at the end of the book? How would it have been different in the beginning of the book?    

Connections (Books and Movies with Related Themes):

  1. "Peggy Sue Got Married" -- In this 1986 movie, Peggy Sue passes out at her high school reunion and then wakes up in her past right before she graduates. It’s similar to Before I Fall because Peggy Sue relives her past to fix mistakes, like Sam.
  2. All I Need Is Kill -- In this book by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, a man must relive this unwinnable battle till he wins.
  3. "The Never Ending Story"-- In this 1984 mov, a boy dives into a book that never ends.
  4. "The Butterfly Effect" -- In this 2004 movie a college student finds a way to go back in time and live different ways.
  5. 12:01 PM-in this book, regular guy Myron Castleman, a New York City executive who begins experiencing the afternoon hour of 12:01 to 1:01 on an endless loop. He chases down a physicist who describes the phenomenon as a time disfiguration, but never discovers the cause or the solution.
  6. Doubled and Redoubled -- This short story by Malcolm Jameson, published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1938, may be the original time-loop story.

After Reading

Questions:

  1. How did you feel about Sam's transformation from the beginning to the end?
  2. How could the girls stop Juliet from killing herself?
  3. If you had the chance to relive one day in your life would you? Why?
  4. If the other girls could relive that day do you think they would stop Juliet?
  5. How do you think people who read this book might treat others differently? What would be the benefit to the school?  

Activities

  1. Create a "fake book" for one of the main characters in Before I Fall. (Search for "fakebook" in Class Tools www.classtools.net)
  2. Create a PSA to raise awareness about the issue of suicide. Have the PSA approved before sharing it with a public audience.
  3. Write a draft anti-bullying pledge for your school with a small group and discuss what you could do with it.