Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (480 pages; HarperCollins, 2010)
Friday, February 12, starts out like any other day in the charmed life of Samantha "Sam" Kingston. She has the perfect friends and even the perfect boyfriend, but what she doesn’t know is that this day will change her life forever, ending with a party, an argument, and a car crash that takes her life.
However, when she wakes up the next morning it's February 12 all over again, meaning she hasn't died in the car crash yet. Over the next seven days—all of which are the same calendar day—Sam comes to realize that every choice she makes can affect her fate. She suddenly notices classmates she'd never paid attention to before, and learns for the first time that everything isn’t about her.
But will it be enough to save her? Pick up Before I Fall to find out if Sam can make all the right decisions before time runs out.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman (208 pages; Dutton, 2009)
The last thing Mia remembers is driving over the snow-covered Oregon roads with her family. Then she sees her twisted, tangled body being pulled from the wreckage. She has no memory of the accident—she knows only that she's still holding on, somewhere.
Flashbacks take over as Mia remembers her love of music and how much she enjoyed playing the cello, her relationship with her boyfriend, and her wonderful parents. Her journey is about what she's already learned—that life can be hard, but the good times make it worth all the effort. Now, as nurses and visitors shuffle around her hospital room, Mia must take charge of her destiny, a burden that's made even harder when she discovers what's happened to the rest of her family.
If you were in Mia's shoes, what would you do? Gayle Forman masterfully illustrates the difficulty of such a dilemma in If I Stay.