Okay, let me clear something up from the outset. I am not a religious person and have never had any real belief in the `life after death' scenario. Having said that I try to be open minded, but struggled when reading the jacket for this particular book. I opened the book with a high level of trepidation. The only thing that was spurring me on was the outstanding review level of this book on various websites. Amazon was showing an outstanding review level of 4.5 out of 5 over 78 customer reviews. In addition to the high rating not one person had given it a score lower than 3!
The book itself is quite an eye catching cover with a close up of a young girls face on it. You then open the book to read a two page prologue which gives you an insight into Sam and what she is thinking. As the first few chapters went by I found myself not having an awful lot of empathy with this seemingly spoilt brat of a girl. Sam Kingston is seen to be a typical American teenager that has everything at her feet. She is pretty, popular and has a close circle of friends as well as the popular boyfriend.
We see Sam's first day speed by and before I knew it I was halfway through the book. There is no spoiler when I say that we relive Sam's day following her death as this is made clear from the outset. The whole point of the book is to follow her journey as she tries desperately to `get it right'. She struggles with things such as treating people in the right way and dealing with her true feelings towards classmates.
Her friends Lindsay, Elody and Ally are all introduced very early on and I never really liked Lindsay, even at the end. We also see her old school friend Kent and the girl that is most unpopular in school. The book highlights just how much of an impact people have on each others lives in how they treat each other.
Around the last few chapters I felt myself warming to Sam and realising that she is just a girl. Like many young girls, she makes mistakes and sometimes it takes a big event to make you see the error of your ways.
The ending is not quite what I thought it would be but I was very happy overall with how the story was told. It is a book that should be taught in English in schools across the country. It has strong values within it and would benefit more than a few teenagers across the country.
Although I had my reservations, I can see why this book has been so popular. It is all of life's emotions rolled into one. You will laugh, cry and sometimes be shocked at what you read. You will feel empathy as well as feeling angry; it's a book that will maybe make you look at things differently if only for a day!