Advance reader reviews of Before I Die by Jenny Downham.

Before I Die

By Jenny Downham

Before I Die
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Sep 2007,
    336 pages.
    Age range: Young Adult


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There are currently 15 member reviews
for Before I Die
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  • Becky (Junction TX)


    Tries too hard
    This sex & drug filled book seems to follow a young girls race to death. Definitely not for adults, it will probably appeal to younger readers and even though it deals with very serious topics, I would recommend it for mature young readers.
  • Carolyn (Redwood City CA)


    Before I Die
    I really did not like the first half of the book. The tone, to me, was one of being talked down to. Also, Tessa was not sympathetic even though she was dying. Her father at one point told her she was a monster and I agree. During the second half I did start feeling some sympathy and by the end I was deeply touched. The prose, in places, is poetic and sensual. I saw pictures of the UK cover and the US cover, and I feel the UK cover is more meaningful. I was surprised this is being marketed as age 14+.
  • Deborah (Newark CA)


    Reluctantly a 4 instead of a 5
    I really did love this book. I read it in one sitting which is a rarity for me. I give it a 4 only because I found it profoundly depressing and am reluctant to heartily endorse it for young adults.

    I guess that would be an endorsement. Ms. Downham writes well enough to make me worry about its effects on younger teens. As another reviewer suggests, this book is not for anyone facing a recent death. It is intense, realistic and avoids being maudlin or melodramatic.

    A heartbreaker that I will not soon forget.
  • Kimberly (Sanford NC)


    Sad, Yet Inspiring
    Before I Die, the story of a sixteen year old girl with leukemia, was written in such a sincere and bold manner that I often felt I was reading a true memoir rather than a work of fiction. Ms. Downham seemed to effectively capture the emotions and thoughts one might experience in this situation. She did this not only for the main character, but also for her supporting characters as well. Although, the intended market population for this book is adolescents, I think it would be enjoyable for anyone over the age of fourteen.
  • Jane (Prospect KY)


    Before I Die by Jenny Downham
    Although I gave this book an overall three, it was not an average book. I thought the first third of the book could do with some rewriting -- just didn't grab me right off the bat.The more I got into the story, the more interested I became.

    I have never been with a young person who died so can't speak with any authority about whether or not this book relates experiences which are believable. My experience in being with elderly persons at the time of their death tells me that the author did a fairly good job of describing the gradual disorientation which occurs.

    Probably the least developed characters were the adults in the novel. I felt with a little rewriting this story could really grab your heartstrings. As it is currently, I just felt annoyed at the omissions and the poorly developed characters. The flow of the story was off and overall I just ended the book with a sense of frustration about 'what it could have been'.
  • Valerie (Chico CA)


    Breaks the heart
    This book squeezes your heart and knocks the air out of you. Intense, touching, and well written, it is not for the faint of heart. For anyone dealing with death or serious in any way, this book provides insight into what it may be like for the dying person. Compassionate and holding no punches, this is an astounding book.
  • Lori (La Porte IN)


    Poignant
    Before I Die by Jenny Downham is a poignant "coming of age" story told from the perspective of Tessa, a sixteen year old girl dying of leukemia. Tessa often speaks with the voice of a typical self-absorbed teen, but her thoughts seem crystallized in their clarity as her time grows more brief. As she sets out to accomplish what takes most people a whole lifetime -- determining what makes for a well-lived life -- she comes to the life-affirming realization that the simple things -- the cycle of nature, the love of family and friends, human touch-- are the ones that mean the most. This book will appeal to young adult and adult readers and book clubs, and fans of The Lovely Bones.
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