Reader reviews and comments on Before I Die, plus links to write your own review.

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Before I Die

by Jenny Downham

Before I Die by Jenny Downham
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2009, 336 pages

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There are currently 40 reader reviews for Before I Die
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Valerie (09/19/07)

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.
Diane (09/19/07)

Death for real
I read this in one sitting - it's just that compelling. At the same time, it was hard to reach the end of the book, since the narrator's death was so certain. It was also hard to read through all my tears! But it was a good kind of grief, the kind that calls to mind the real life experiences of losing loved ones to the slow ordeal of cancer. I found it to be exceptional in the juxtaposition of ordinary teen life with the threat of imminent death. Many teens like reading about death ala Lurlene McDaniel, and I think they will eat this more realistic portrayal up.
Diana (09/19/07)

A Teenage Girl, Her Lover, Her Brother, and Death
Before I Die, the interior monologue of a 16 year-old girl dying of leukemia is haunting, compelling, and at places downright beautiful. Written with an adolescent market in mind, some plot features may be a little starry eyed for the adult reader, but overall the book is a worthwhile read--impossible to put down once begun or to finish without a tear. The younger brother, age not given but apparently in the 9-11 range, is almost perfect, with his love and fear for his sister warring with his own needs for attention.
Carolyn (09/19/07)

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 (09/19/07)

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 (09/19/07)

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.
Michelle (09/19/07)

Before I Die
After getting used to the somewhat disjointed thought patterns of the main character, I couldn't put this book down. It was an extremely realistic account of a young woman with a terminal disease & the author captures the myriad of emotions that the teen goes through as she slowly comes to terms with her illness. You can really feel her pain, anger, depression, and even wild joy at times & my heart truly ached for her. I think this story would appeal to all ages, it is a very realistic account of what it is like to die from a terminal disease, from both sides, the family and the patient. Grab a box of tissues!!
Michelle (09/19/07)

Before I Die
After getting used to the somewhat disjointed thought patterns of the main character, I couldn't put this book down. It was an extremely realistic account of a young woman with a terminal disease & the author captures the myriad of emotions that the teen goes through as she slowly comes to terms with her illness. You can really feel her pain, anger, depression, and even wild joy at times & my heart truly ached for her. I think this story would appeal to all ages, it is a very realistic account of what it is like to die from a terminal disease, from both sides, the family and the patient. Grab a box of tissues!!

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