I have been reading Before I Fall. The protagonist is a mean girl. It turns out I like her. I like the gaps between the way she describes herself— funky, cool, having a good time— and what is probably true. The people who look at her, not in admiration, as she imagines, but disgust. The shiver of disgust she herself feels when her popular, slobbery boyfriend kisses her and leaves saliva all over her chin. The way she ignores all the clues that she is not who she thinks, and clings to the shiny version she prefers. Part of the reason I can forgive her is that she’s dead, which means she has already gotten the worst possible punishment. I don’t need to punish her, too. But also, I have hope—why start with somebody so awful unless change is coming? I keep reading to find out: when will she wake up to the truth about her former life? I learn that it’s not just character that holds my attention, but the promise of transformation. This young woman who, in spite of her flaws, makes poetic observations about the world around her— a watery sun spreading over the sky like spilled milk, the pin pricks of cold rain on the back of her hand. Maybe she can be saved.