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111 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish List
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...
Published on 11 Sep 2007 by kehs

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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching
Tessa is 16 and dying of cancer. She knows that she has only months to live and she creates a list of things she wants to experience before she dies: having sex, trying drugs and falling in love being just three of them. This is not your usual teen lit fare. It is a very moving book that feels like a realistic account of a teenager struggling to come to terms with the...
Published on 1 Dec 2007 by Julia Flyte


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111 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish List, 11 Sep 2007
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Die (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
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
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
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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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read, 3 July 2007
By 
Polly Hall (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
This is an amazing book - I laughed, cried, it made me feel as though I'd lost a best friend by the end. But it isn't depressing - in fact it's a book about death that made me feel exhilarated at the end - amazing. It reminded me in some way of THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold - dealing with loss, death, love in the most incredible way. And when I remember what being a teenager was like I think the author has just put her finger on the extremes of feeling you have - let alone under such a life sentence. If there is any book you must read, this is the one! It certainly isn't just for teenagers - it's for everyone. Unforgettable.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching, 1 Dec 2007
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
Tessa is 16 and dying of cancer. She knows that she has only months to live and she creates a list of things she wants to experience before she dies: having sex, trying drugs and falling in love being just three of them. This is not your usual teen lit fare. It is a very moving book that feels like a realistic account of a teenager struggling to come to terms with the fact that her life will be over almost before it's begun. Sometimes Tessa is self-pitying, angry or apathetic - but she is also real and brave and you care about her.

This is a quick book to read - it took me a day. It's fairly predictable and aside from Tessa, the characters are pretty sketchy. However its simplicity also makes it feels more genuine, as if it really was penned by a 16 year old. It makes you think about and appreciate your own friends, your family - your very life.

Despite the subject matter it doesn't endorse casual sex (indeed, the potential consequences are very clear!) nor drug use. I wouldn't hesitate to give it to a teenager to read, although I would probably hand over a large box of tissues along with it. It's the kind of book that touches your heart.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 25 Sep 2007
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
I devoured this book in two days. It called to me. Beckoned me across the room and begged me to pick it up and finish what I'd started. If I hadn't needed to eat and sleep, I'd have finished it in mere hours. It was that vital to keep going.

Tessa Scott keeps going, too. She keeps writing on the wall and adding to the list of things she wants to do before she dies. Tess's life is being driven from her by leukemia before she herself can even drive a car. It's not fair. She wants a boyfriend. She wants normal.

Tessa pushes. She pushes against the people who want to be near her. She pushes against the rules she's been forced to follow throughout her brief life. She pushes against death.

She keeps breathing. In and out. It's simple. Except, it's not that simple.

This book gives a promise. This book keeps its promise. This book is real. It is deep and winding and important. It is beautiful and strong and eloquent and everlasting. It is just beautiful.

Reviewed by: Julie M. Prince
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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 "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Before I Die (Paperback)
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Powerful stuff, 31 Mar 2008
By 
P. Goule (County Durnham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
Faced with the realization that she has a terminal illness, Tessa who is only 16, prepares a list of things to do, before she dies.
Aided by her mad but wonderful friend Zoey, Tessa makes her list reality, thus making her limited time worth living.
I found this book very moving as Tessa's list expands, willing her life to be prolonged for just a little longer, but also very funny as her very direct humour shines through.
This is a very thought provoking book, especially towards the end. You really wonder what exactly you would do in her situation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TITLE?!!, 24 Sep 2007
By 
This review is from: Before I Die (Hardcover)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dying wishes, 30 April 2008
By 
Lisa Hardy "lisabookworm" (Kettering, Northants, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Before I Die (Paperback)
I finished this book in just over a day, as I couldn't put it down!

It deals with the issues of Tessa, who is 16 years old and has terminal cancer. She makes a list of the things she wants to do before she dies, even changing the list slightly along the way.

I thought this book was well written, and one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read, making me think "what would I put on my list?" The author dealt with the delicate subject matter fantastically and didn't make out Tessa to be a holier than though teenager, but a normal everyday teenager who had testy relationships with both friends and family.

It explores relationships of all kinds and how they respond to such pressure when difficulties arise and decisions have to be made. I don't usually read books twice, but this is definately one I would pick up again to read.
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Before I Die
Before I Die by Jenny Downham (Paperback - 9 Oct 2008)
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