"Before I Die"
by Jenny Downham
Pub. Date: September 25th, 2007
Synopsis: It's really going to happen. They said it would, but this is quicker than anyone thought. Everyone has to die. We all know it. With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most. She's made a list, though ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight. But getting what you want isn't easy. And getting what you want doesn't always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important. Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's really like to die.
I enjoyed this book, but the characters made it hard for me to enjoy the book as much as I would have liked. Tessa kind of bothered me at some points, I understand that she is dying and that isn't something you can just get over, but it seemed like she was taking out her frustrations on everyone around her. Tessa's best friend seemed like she didn't care half the time and her mother was an immature mess. I think my favorite characters were Tessa's dad, her brother, and Adam.
Something I did like about this book was how honest it was; this is not a romanticized story with a happy ending. It is heartbreaking and the end is not what most people probably expected. I am wondering if the characters were maybe a little too honest for me. They all just seemed riddled with flaws, which is a realistic portrayal of how people are. Best friends don't always get along, people who are dying struggle with the cards dealt to them, and mothers aren't always good caretakers. I do appreciate the honesty of this book, but I just wish I could have enjoyed the characters more.
I also really like how Tessa had a list of things she wanted to do before she died. I like the whole idea of her trying to make the most of her time left, even if she had days where she would rather stay in bed and just give up. I didn't agree with everything on Tessa's list, but it is her list and I liked that there were thing on it that other people may not understand.
"Before I Die" is a good book and Jenny Downham gives the reader an honest peak into the final months of a teenager with leukemia's life. Even though I didn't love this book, I still would recommend it; just because I struggled with accepting some of the characters, doesn't mean that everyone will. This is a book that would be great for book groups and I kind of wish I was in one so I could discuss this book