Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review - Before I Die by Jenny Downham


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.


Before I Die is painfully beautiful novel about a young girl that has only months to live.  Tessa, instead of withering away and feeling sorry for herself, compiles a list of all the things she wants to do before she passes.

Plot:  The plot of this book is nothing that hasn't been done before, but Jenny Downham writes in such a beautiful and haunting way, that this book stands out from the crowd.  I love how Downham used the days Tessa has to live as her "measuring tape".  Tessa measures all important events in days.  For example, Easter is in 92 days.  For Tessa, it is a measurement of whether she will be alive to see that day.

Characters:  Tessa was such a deeply developed character, but even she had her flaws.  In her desire to do all the things on her list, she made bad decisions.  Readers spent to much time with Tessa, getting to know how she feels about her family friends, ***SPOILER ALERT*** that when she finally does pass away, you almost feel as if you've lost a friend.  The only other character I felt a connection with was Tessa's brother Cal.  Throughout the book he makes little comments like "I hope you're dead by the time I get back from school" but you know the meaning behind the comments run deeper.  Cal loves his sister and is scared of her death.  Adam fell flat for me.  I didn't understand Tessa's attraction to him and she even calls him ugly.  I didn't get any kind of personality from his character.

Overall a pretty decent read.  The fact that most of the characters fell flat for me brought my rating down a little.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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