Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

March 30th, 2009 by Debbie's World of Books


I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Description from  Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Let me wipe my tears away before I get too far into this.  Yes, I broke down at the end of the book.  You know Tessa is not going to live and yet Downham has sucked you so far into Tessa’s life that you feel as if you know her and would mourn her passing as well.  I liked that this book sounds as if it really were written from the point of view of a teen ager.  The things she wants to do before she dies are things like use drugs, have sex, break the law, etc.  All things I think a typical teenager would want to do if they knew they were dying.  Not just the sappy things like saying good bye to everyone and every place they have ever been.    As a parent I hope I am never in this situation but if you are how far do you go to fulfill your dying child’s last requests?  Do you really punish them for breaking the law or sneaking a guy in to sleep in her bed?  Do you even try to get them to go back to school to return to a sense of normalcy?

While it was a really sad book it was also interesting to get into the head of a teenager who knows they are facing death and how they handle it.

Posted in 3 Star Books, Books, Young Adult

4 Responses

  1. Kailana

    I might have to check this out. It sounds alright! Difficult subject for an author to write about, though.

  2. dsuzuki

    Yeah, it was tough to read although at times you forget you are dealing with a teenager and are like-what are you thinking? It sort of was like reading Thirteen Reasons Why. You know the ending is going to be sad but it still hits hard. Although I preferred Thirteen Reasons Why over this one.

  3. nicole

    This book is exceptional, not because of the death or the subject, because of the ‘realness’

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