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Before I Die

Before I Die [Kindle Edition]

Jenny Downham
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £6.99
Kindle Price: £1.89 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description


"Dealing frankly with teenage life, Before I Die will be the year's most talked-about novel . . . Novels for young teenagers do not usually feature drugs and casual sex within the first 20-odd pages. But most books for teenagers will not leave an adult reader's eyes so blurry with tears that it's hard to see the final chapters. Jenny Downham's extraordinary first novel does both" (The Sunday Times)

"Downham's prose is brave and bare, her characters relentlessly realistic" (Dinah Hall Sunday Telegraph)

"Destined to drive hundreds of thousands of readers to tears and to swift injunctions to all their friends to read it" (Observer)

"A novel that won't fail to touch those who read it, and despite the melancholy subject matter it manages to be hugely life-affirming. A book that will make you happy to be alive. 5 stars" (Jo Hoare Heat)

"A work of great humanity and profound empathy. I defy anyone not to cry reading this book" (Daily Express)


'A novel that won't fail to touch those who read it...will make you happy to be alive'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 363 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: RHCP Digital (4 Sep 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862304874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862304871
  • ASIN: B0031RS3M6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,979 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish List 11 Sep 2007
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
An intense story narrated by Tessa, who is 16 and has only a few months left to live. She has a list of `to do before I die' wishes and is working her way through them, number one on the list is to have sex. Along the way the reader hears about Tessa's observations on life, how she faces what fate has dealt her with grace but also with rebelliousness and anger. She thinks about what it will be like for her family once she is dead and whether she will be able to haunt them. We also learn what her family think, and how they are trying to come to terms with the knowledge that they are going to lose their daughter.

This book could have been unbearably painful to read, but Downham has allowed Tessa to retain a sense of humour about her situation, along with meeting her first (and only) true love. I admit to having been moved to tears a few times, especially when she has some special moments with her younger brother.

I found this to be an incredibly moving read, while at the same time it retains a sense of dignity and humour. Downham writes beautifully and her words just flow over the pages. This was a page-turner for me and I highly recommend it.
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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before I Cry... 3 Nov 2007
By Luanne
I bought this book not realising it was aimed at the teenage market, but I thought I would read it anyway. And I am so glad I did, because this is a book for everyone, regardless of age. It is the story of Tessa, 16 years old and dying of cancer. Tessa seems bolshy and defiant on the surface but, as you read on, you peel away the layers and find a mass of compicated emotions so powerful they grab you by the heart and tug very very painfully.

The writing is economical, simple to read. I read the book in two days. On the first day I felt mainly anger at Tessa's seemingly uncaring, selfish best friend ("It's always got to be about you!") and Tessa's flighty mother who is never there for her. On the second day I felt so many emotions I cannot possibly begin to write them down. The last twenty pages or so of the book were read through a veil of tears.

It is not, however, a sentimental read. Tessa is spirited and her humour shines through, but the raw emotion towards the end can make the book a difficult read, though I guarantee you will not be able to put it down. Even after you have finished, you will likely read the last few pages again.

I urge everyone to read this book. It is raw and true, terribly sad and yet life-affirming, too. A marvellous achievement. Just thinking about it makes me feel like crying.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heart rending 20 Feb 2008
How I felt for Tessa and her urge to scramble as much into a few months as most of us would experience over many years. A book that could be so maudlin was exceptionally uplifting and even those who have never experienced the journey down this darkened path found insights into our own lives. When I was diagnosed with cancer as a middle aged adult how I experienced the panic of wanting to see my children happy and settled and not needing me - at least not too much. Tessa and her family touched my heart. Every time I speak to my daughter I find myself saying have you started that book yet. Thank you Jenny Downham for this wonderful read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect book about love and life 9 May 2008
By Love Books VINE VOICE
I stayed up until 4am to finish this book last night and like other reviewers the tears just wouldn't stop coming. But this isn't a mawkish, sentimental book at all. It's an absolutely brilliant story about how precious and wonderful life is, and it makes you think about all the little things we all take for granted. The narrator, Tess, is a beautifully drawn character, a normal teenager with the usual insecurities and awkwardnesses except that she's an expert in leukaemia and when the book opens she has just been told that there is nothing more the doctors can do to help her. She is going to die, soon.

Her relationship with her family, and her best friend Zoey are real and believable. I was so happy that her parents allowed her the freedom to experience as much as she did when their instinct (especially her father's) was to wrap her in cotton wool. I also liked the life-affirming subplot about Zoey.

This really is a lovely, lovely book. It's one of those books that makes the world a better place. Read it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TITLE?!! 24 Sep 2007
The cover describes this book as extraordinary and for once, I agree with the review. It is extraordinary in that it doesn't shy away from a very difficult subject. It's a very accurate portrayal of a teenage cancer victims struggle to accept death.

The author tells what it is like to be seriously ill, from the patient's perspective. This is a normal teenage girl, who has everyday teenage desires - she wants to be in love, longs to be independent and fights with her brother, with one exception - she's dying.

Tessa has spent the past four years, having treatment, going in and out of hospital for test after test, dealing with hope and hope being dashed and now...Now they can't do anymore. This book tells how she reacts to her family's varied responses to her diagnosis. Her anger and frustration at not being able to live out her dreams and having her daily plans messed up by the illness. The embarrassment of fainting on complete strangers and dealing with them jumping to the wrong conclusions. And saying your "fine" when people ask you "Are you alright?" when actually you're dying.

This book made me realise what a blessing life is and treasure the beauty of each day. It makes you want to live each day as if it was gonna be your last.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragedy
I loved this book. It was so sad!! I recommend before I die to all of the fault in our stars lovers!!😀😄
Published 1 day ago by A m
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read.
Published 8 days ago by e
5.0 out of 5 stars Really captures teenage cancer
Came quickly
Brilliant book which I read before and wanted to read again :) love it
Published 18 days ago by Chelsea Brothwood
3.0 out of 5 stars hmmm
i seriously dont know how i feel.isaw it in my school library but i havent particularly enjoyed it and i sort of think tessa is a brat and spoilt kid. Read more
Published 1 month ago by bee
5.0 out of 5 stars OK song
Bought for my daughter. She is happy with it.
Published 1 month ago by McShuggle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellently observed teenage "life". Couldn't put it down!
Published 1 month ago by dabthoms
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great purchase!
Published 3 months ago by miss nora p mcgrann
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book
Published 4 months ago by Laura
4.0 out of 5 stars Before i die.
Before i die, is a sad story, about a young girl who has lived with cancer for quite a while now. But it got worse, so she decides to make a list of things to do before she passes. Read more
Published 4 months ago by crazygirl99
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant, Moving - Beautiful Reading
I always said that there must be better books out there than The Fault in Our Stars by John Green when tackling teenage cancer in a novel. And there was. I have just read it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
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