Review: Before I Die by Jenny Downham


Title: Before I Die
Author: Jenny Downham
Publisher: Random House
Date published: 2007
Type of book: Young Adult
Common Themes: Death, Living, Family, Love, Regret
Pages: 327

Ideas expressed/message/plot: From inside cover: “IT’S REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. THEY SAID IT WOULD, BUT THIS 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.”

I was hesitant to read this book at first because, to be completely honest, I’m a crier. I knew when I started this book, that when I got to the end, I would sob my eyes out. And I already had a horrid cold, in the summer, when it was 90 degrees out. Ick. But I put my own personal comfort aside to read this book – and I’m glad I did. Even if I couldn’t breathe out of my nose for hours.

Tessa is dying, and she doesn’t have much time left, but she is determined to finish the ten things on her list before she does. Sex is the first, but it isn’t the life changing act that one would think it is – its the smaller things, and ultimately, the things that aren’t on Tessa’s list that end up being the most important.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing Style: 10
Romance: 10
Memorable: 10
Total: 50/50 (A)

This book really changed the way I see to-do lists, that’s for sure. It was deep and touching – and so so horribly sad – but it was so so good. Good seems like such a bland term, but that is the best way I can describe it. Like when you meet a “good” person, they fill you with such light and hope – that’s what Before I Die is like. Read this book – in fact, buy it and loan it out to others. Everyone should read it once.

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