on 14 November 2010
I expected this book to be quite different. I hoped that Tessa would have acted a little more caring to those around her. She is a bit of a brat at times - understandably so because she's terrified of dying. This undoubtedly influences her actions in the book. I was a little sad that she felt she had to rush huge moments in her life. I realise she wanted to do them before she died, but she got hurt by doing them. I'd have preferred that she wasn't hurt so much. And yet, on the other hand, there is a sense of realism here. Not all people handle terminal (or chronic) illness well 100% of the time. There are moments when everyone cracks.
Tessa does get disappointed, but she also has a .lot of fun too. Her brother Cal enjoys some of the fun, as does her friend Zoey. However, Tessa's desperation to do things brings out her wild side. She feels invincible because of her impending death. Her actions scare her family. Even right near the end Cal is uncertain of her because of how she's acted. Her parents are beside themselves with how to help her cope. She doesn't let them into her life very much. At the end, when it counts, they are always there for her. I cried while reading this. I wasn't as attached to Tessa as I'd hoped to be (because of her actions) but her story is moving, especially how the last few chapters are written. It captures Tessa's final moments perfectly.
on 5 May 2013
Many have had their negative said on this book, and I'm just about to reflect their very impression and comments.
I searched for other readers' opinions only once I had finished this book. I did not want to be influenced by their point of view before starting, nor incurr in any spoiler. When I got to the last page I was so uncertain on what I thought of it that I couldn't help going on Internet and find out if I was the only one who found this book a useless pile of crap.
Internet proved that I am not.
Tess is 16 and is about to die of leukemia. She knows that the time to go is getting closer pretty fast, but as she still has so many things to do she decides she'll put the most urgent in a list and will do all she can to go through those points, one by one.
On top of the list, as she's never done it before, there's sex. Her closest friend or, better, the only person around who did not run from her as if she was contagious, is Zoey. Zoey will help Tessa to go through her list and to find the bloke with whom she could have sex for the first time.
In the list there are other things Tessa's willing to do such as shoplifting, say "yes" to everything for a day, fame, drive a car for the first time, and so on.
I won't discuss whether this list reflects the actual wishes of a dying teenager or not, as no one is capable to imagine what a teenager, or any person at all for all that matters, might or might not plan to do with the short future she is left to live. What I want to discuss - and strongly argue - is the way the whole plot has been used by the author.
I believe that flat is an understatement as well as poor, not to mention the characters - and here's where my point of view matches with that of other readers.
I did hate Tessa all along. I can understand the anger and the hate she might feel while looking at the world around her and knowing that she'll soon be nomore part of it. I can understand that the pressure she feels when thinking of what's happening to her body, so out of her control, is such that it looks like she's bursting with anger. However, despite the anger, she still contraddicts herself over and over again. She hates the world around - even though she never clearly admits it - she asks to be left alone and yet she's continuously angry because the people do leave her alone.
I wonder whether with a mother like Tessa's I wouldn't feel like to burn the house down myself - with my mother shut inside, of course! Because the character of Tessa's mother is another detail I could not understand of this book: she cares about her daughter as much as she'd care about a bent teaspoon. Why? Why isn't she feeling anything at all, why is she so indifferent? Does she care for her daughter at all? Why does she keep skipping hospital visits, leaving Tessa on her own? This has got nothing to do with being selfish and incapable of handling the situation, as Tessa suggests a few times. I believe Tessa's mother's attitude has more to do with the fact that she was born out of the pen of someone who did not manage - or know how - to create a credible character.
Then we have Tessa's dad, which Jenny Downham created - thank God! - credible enough, her kidbrother, absolutely hateful and just as contradictory as she is, and Adam.
Adam, the love of the short life she's left to live.
Someone said that Adam is the only character they really cared of. I'm afraid I didn't. I found him just as uninteresting as all the others. I wasn't bothered to understand his feelings, about why he did care about Tessa so much or what he could go through once Tessa was gone. I saw Adam just as another ingredient thrown in the massive pigswill bucket Now is good.
The main issue with this book is that I was not in the slightest interested in the story or its characters. There was no gripping feeling at the beginning nor, as I hoped there would be, at the end of the story. To speak frankly once I got to the middle I couldn't wait for Tessa to die and the story to be over. I hoped until the very last page that there'd be something, anything happening and changing the appalling idea I had of the book. But nothing happened.
I haven't got the feelings of a streetlamp and I get involved in the books I read quite often, but in this case I can't help but wonder how can grown up people find this story the book of the year. I can quite understand teenagers, as their requirements and feelings in terms of books are completely different from adults', but what about over-20s?