Before I Die – Jenny Downham


This book comes with an extreme tear-jerker warning attached to it. If you spend your entire reading experience blubbering, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Suffering from leukaemia, sixteen-year-old Tessa only has a few more months left to live. She has compiled a list of ten things she wants to do before she dies. More than anything else she wants to lose her virginity, so her friend Zoey takes her out clubbing one night to see if she can help make Tessa’s wish come true.

As Tessa works her way through her list she meets Adam, her next-door neighbour. On the brink of death, Adam makes Tessa feel more alive than ever before. What could a nineteen-year-old boy possibly see in a dying, cancer-ridden girl? Believe me when I say, more than you think.

Adam’s character is so real, so mature. Readers will fall in love with him from the very first moment he is introduced into the story. He becomes Tessa’s life force as he injects a new enthusiasm, a new desire to live just that little bit longer. Adam’s devotion and attentiveness, his adoration for a dying girl completely restored my faith in teenage boys everywhere.

But don’t be fooled, this is not one of those stories where everything works out in the end. The title itself indicates that Tessa will in fact pass on. I don’t feel like I’m giving away any crucial plot elements by divulging this, if anything, I’m preparing you for the inevitable. And I think that if you approach this book knowing that your beloved protagonist is not going to make it through, her experiences, her emotions and revelations become all the more important.

I cried, I laughed and then I cried some more. Before I Die is a beautifully written tale that readers everywhere will enjoy.

Rating: [rating:4]

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