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Monday, April 19, 2010

Can People Ever Really Change?

This question, and themes of change in general, are central to Before I Fall. So I ask you...

Are you interested in change?

Do you hate me for the way I ended my novel?

Or want to discuss BIF at a book club, or just among your friends?

Then you must check out the short article I wrote for Book Club Girl here! (Pretty please. Promise you won't regret it--and it will give you an excuse to procrastinate from work/errands/chores/school!)

What do you think? Do you believe people can change? And how do you feel about ambiguous endings in novels/works of fiction?



Unknown said...

Loved the article. Thanks for giving me a reason to procrastinate!

Carla said...

I never really thought the ending of Before I Fall was ambiguous. Maybe this was just me, but as a reader, I thought that was the natural ending to Sam's story. I loved the ending, because it was beautiful in its simplicity.

As for can people change, I think they can. I think anyone can change. But, they have to have the right mind set. You should never want to change for someone other than yourself, because you'll just end up unhappy. You should want to change for you, and if you want to change for yourself, then it wil happen. Redemption is something you can only take for yourself, because you want it.

Unknown said...

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please write back

Twi-sessed said...

First off, I'm a pretty big fan of ambiguous endings in general. I like having my own personal version of how the story ended. (Maybe it's the writer in me.)

And, yes, I think people can change, but it takes something huge (like Sam's death) to force that change.

PS I did like BIF's ending, but was so wanting her to have a real chance with Kent. But, that's why I love the book--I will forever want more for Sam.

Penny said...

I'm surprised that people don't like this book simply because Sam doesn't get the Groundhog's Day ending, in which she wakes up and it's February 13.

I love the ending of Before I Fall. Does that make me callous? I don't think so. It's not like I wanted Sam to die, but the fact is, SHE WAS ALREADY DEAD!!! It says so in the prologue. (I know you already know all this but I'm frustrated with everyone who says they don't like the book because Sam dies. I want to shake them and yell "BUT SHE WAS ALREADY DEAD! And anyway Sam staying alive isn't the point to this book!!! Can't you SEE how beautiful this book is??? What's the matter with you?!" But obviously I'd never do that because I'm not crazy.)

I feel if you had brought Sam back to life it would have been a complete cop-out. And honestly? I think it would have ruined the book altogether.

And yes, I believe people can change. I know they can, because I've experienced the power of forgiveness and redemption in my own life. I think that's why I love Before I Fall so much.

Suzanne Young said...

That was a great post! And your ending was exactly how it should have been and very brave to write. :-)


Yes, I think (or at least hope) people can change. That's why I root for underdogs, or fall in love with the Chuck Bass's of the world (fake bad boys only; I'm not that into bad boys in real life).

Now, about the ending of your book: The way you chose to end it (live vs. death) I was absolutely fine with, and I didn't think it was ambiguous at all. It packed more of a punch, and it was more realistic. Granted, I would've loved if everyone could've had their happy ending, but that would've felt ... wrong somehow. Cheap. (That said, don't hate me for it, but I was a little disappointed with Sam on her final day. I was left asking, "Hmm ... I mean, I get it but ... Did those decisions really help anything?")

BIF has stuck with me, though, which is more than I can say for most of the books I've read lately. So whatever your choices were, and whether we all agree with them, they worked!

Tahereh said...

OMG i wanted to break the book after i finished it. i wanted to do something mean to it. i wanted to cry and scream at Sam for doing something so horribly beautiful. i hated her for it and i loved her for it. ohhhh but i hated her for it. i think i'll always hate her for it. mostly because i wanted to see her and kent live happily ever-after.

oh, kent.

BIF was a beautiful book that haunted me for days afterward, but your ending RIPPED me up. which is why, i think, it was so powerful.

a success, absolutely.

and yes. yes. yes. yes. people are always capable of change.

Jennay and Luke the Pup said...

That was a great post you did.

I do think people can change and I hope people that need the change, can change. It takes strength to do so, but if it's a good change, then it is a more positive lifestyle for that person. Change is a good thing and I know from personal experience, I've hated change. It is a scary thing. But when life isn't going well, it's usually because something needs to change within. My sister used to always tell me when I was going through a hard time (depression) that I'm hitting the same obstacles in life because I'm not open to the changing. After I thought of that (for years) I realized its not my environment that needs the change, but the person. So yes, people can change!

And I loved the ending for Before I Fall...it seemed way realistic and kept me thinking about the novel and life in general.

Anonymous said...

I have not read the book yet, for reasons of money, time and access. So I can't speak to those questions relating specifically to the book.

I think the question of change, however, is a good one, and an important one as far as literary character "change" goes. I guess it's a question of what we mean by "change".

Are we talking changes in perception? Knowledge? Behavior? Situation? Or a fundamental alteration in someone's personality? Because while I think the first three are possible and even common, I'm not so sure about the last one.

Having not read the book, I can only go by what small hints I've run across online, but it seems to me that Sam experienced a shift first in situation, and then in internal perception—possibly followed by a change in behavior(can’t say not having read the book), rather than in personality or knowledge.

The way in which humans perceive the world is one of the biggest motivating factors in our behavior. Behavior to me is an external representation of a person, while perception is internal. But I would say they are equally hard to alter.

I think that our behavior, perceptions, situations, or knowledge can be changed individually or in combination. I don’t know if that means a person can change as a whole. A change in perception does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior, and a change in behavior does not necessarily require a change in perception. Similarly, a change in knowledge does not necessarily lead to a change in perception, nor does a change in perception necessarily require a change in knowledge. I won’t even start talking about how situation ties into all of this.
I guess the tl;dr version is who knows?

As far as ambiguous endings go, I love them and hate them. Depends on the ambiguity involved, also. I don’t know if one necessarily gets more engagement out of me than the other, but of course an ambiguous ending is going to have me thinking a lot more about how things (hypothetically) turned out.

Unknown said...

I just finished the book last night. I began reading it a couple of weeks ago, but it was tough for me to finish because my niece almost died three weeks ago in a similar situation. She's okay, but the similarity made me cry through the entire second half of the book, and I am not exaggerating. I have been a high school teacher for 26 years, and this book reminds me of how we need to get to know our kids and really care for them. I have recommended it to many colleagues.
And yes, people can change. Most definitely.
By the way, as an English teacher, I really appreciate your imagery. I kept thinking, "Wow. What a great comparison!"

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