Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die


Tessa has just a few 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, her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa's time finally runs out.

BEFORE I DIE is a brilliantly-crafted novel, heartbreaking yet astonishingly life-affirming. It will take you to the very edge.


There are very few books I do not finish. I have a thing where once I start it I have to finish it. I mean maybe it will get better? It has happened a few times so...well this is one of the few that I just couldn't finish. I got to 65% and just couldn't do it anymore. I hated Tessa. Hated her. How did the author make a girl who is dying of cancer so unlikable? I mean it should be easy enough to make the reader sympathetic to that character. Instead I just kept hoping she would die already so I could stop reading this book. Plus I think everyone would be better off once she dies so they don't have to be so stressed out and worried about her when she just does whatever she wants without regard to anyone else. Yes I know you are a teenager and are dying and yes that is sad, but geez can you think of anyone who loves and cares about you for two seconds? She was just such a whiny little brat and just didn't care who she hurt. I didn't understand her and didn't understand why she wanted to do the things on her list. Have a day of say yes to everything? Okay, but if you are hating every minute of it why are you doing it? Do as many illegal things are you can in a day? Why? Why do you want to do that? Want to kill someone just because you are dying? I don't get it. The fall in love, have a boyfriend, kiss a boy whatever that stuff I get. The stupid random stuff for no reason that you don't enjoy? I don't get that. 

There was no reasoning given for why she wanted to do the horrible things she did so...and she just had no regard for her family. I mean she would just disappear for long periods of time without telling anyone, leaving her poor dad to sit and worry about her. Her bff? Well she was horrible. Tessa was also horrible to her so I guess it works somehow...Ahhh! Tessa annoyed me so much. One minute she is just going to hide in her bed and think about everything she is going to miss, the next she decides she is going to sieze the day and do everything on her list. Well after a day of that back to hiding from the world and not talking to anyone. It was just frustrating. I understand being angry, sad, whatever, but I don't understand being all I am going to miss my brother so much!! Then ignoring him and being horrible to him so he will leave you alone. Maybe spend more time with him before you die? 

I liked Adam, but I am not really sure why he would even like Tessa. I don't get it and don't see them having any kind of relationship. Maybe it evolved somehow in the spaces we didn't see, the parts left out? I don't know. He seems nice, so why would he be with her? She is horrible to everyone! So yeah I didn't finish the book. I could only take so much of Tessa before I had to set it aside. I mean I know she dies at the end need to finish it! I just didn't get why she did the things she did. Maybe if that would have been flushed out I might not have minded her, but without it I was just waiting for it to be over. I had read the authors other book, You Against Me, previously and quite enjoyed that story so I had high hopes for this one. Especially when a lot of the reviews for that book were all well it was alright, but not as good as Before I Die. So not true in my opinion. 

Rating: ★


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