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Before I Die Paperback – Bargain Price, May 26, 2009
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Review, NYTBR, October 14, 2007:
"This may sound too depressing for words, but it is only one indication of the inspired originality of Before I Die, by Jenny Downham, that the reader can finish its last pages feeling thrillingly alive ... I don't care how old you are. This book will not leave you."
—John Burnham Schwartz
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2007
"Lucid language makes a painful journey bearable, beautiful and transcendent."
Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly, August 6, 2007
"The eloquent dying teen can seem a staple of the YA novel, but this British debut completely breaks the mold. Downham holds nothing back in her wrenching and exceptionally vibrant story."
Review, Entertainment Weekly, September 21, 2007
"Bound For Glory: This fall, five young authors deliver breakout books packed with razor-sharp writing."
Review, Entertainment Weekly, September 28, 2007
"In luminous prose that rings completely true, Downham earns every tear she wrings from her readers. I trust there will be many of them—many readers, and of course, many tears. A-"
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
This is Jenny Downham’s debut novel. She lives in England.
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I felt this book was truly amazing, deep, thought provoking, insightful, heart warming, heart breaking, covering issues that many would fear to touch in a YA novel. Did I really read that this was a first novel? I'm even more blown away by that, the writing is truly wonderful, the style kept to match that of the tender age of Tessa. Prepare to cry, but don't pass it up.
I've dealt with death in my own way. I've come within seconds of Mr Reaper multiple times through a diagnosis of my own. My death won't come as suddenly as the narrator's as I've lived for fifteen years with my disease, but it's something that I think about often. Afraid to go to sleep, afraid all the time, but putting on a smile to not allow my uneasiness to travel through my friends and family.
She puts together a list of things she wants to do before she dies. She's sixteen and knows she doesn't have much time left. She wants to have sex, drugs, break the law, say "yes" to everything for a whole day. She wants to squeeze in all of life's moments into a few short months- that's all she has left.
It's a quick read. A heavy topic. A sad premise. It will make you reflect on what's truly important in your own life. Immediately after finishing this story, I gathered my daughter into my arms and told my husband that I love him more than anyone else in the world. I grieved with her and discovered the little pieces of life that would normally go slightly unnoticed.
This is a good book. I wouldn't say it was great because I didn't get very attached to the characters like I would have wanted, but it was a very good book.
Try books like this: "Hold Still" by Nina LaCour, "Okay" by Katherine Marple, "Fall For Anything" by Courtney Summers, "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman
I think I felt more with the movie, but the book was well written, too. Tessa was tough, she had moxie and I liked her. Her best friend Zoey? Not so much. She was a selfish wench who cared more about herself than anyone else. I loved Adam's quiet reluctance, how he got pulled in against his better judgement and wound up in love with a dying girl.
Tessa's journey revolves around a list she has generated that contains all of the things she wants to achieve before she dies. While her behavior in achieving this goal is at times reckless,and even dangerous, it never comes off feeling exploitive,but a genune honest reaction to the cards she's been dealt.
As I said earlier, ultimately the book is about being alive,and like Michael Cristofer's Tony award winning play, 'The Shadow Box', urges you to live life to the fullest and drink in as much as you can while you're still on this earth. The final thirty pages are worth the price of the book alone, although at the risk of overselling, I'd suggest a box of tissues kept close by.I made the mistake of finishing at work.
By the way, the adapted movie, "Now is Good" does not do this author justice. It's a decent movie, however, her writing is far superior to this grade "B" English hack job of cinematography.