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
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 336 pages
    May 2009, 336 pages

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

Before I Die
I had a hard time getting into this book.It took several attempts for me to finish the book as I found it disjointed and didn't flow well.

Lori (09/19/07)

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.
Glory (09/19/07)

my thoughts
I really liked this book. I was able to finish this book in about 5 hours and could not put it down. I felt the characters were well developed and believable. It was all I could do to keep from crying. I am not sure I would let my 14 year old read it though. I think it is more appropriate for an older teenager (16+) or adult. Would highly reccomend this book.
Jayne (09/19/07)

very good book
I read the book in a couple of days and really enjoyed the writing. The story was haunting and made me think. I will recommend this book to a teenager who is interested in something more than the normal teenage books out there.
Carolyn (09/19/07)

Before I Die
I think that perhaps this book could appeal to some adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Having already lived some of the life experiences Tessa has on her list, might encourage one to think about their remaining days and make a list of their own. While I found some of the experiences on the list, things I didn't like, it is her list. The end of the book is beautifully written. I shall give this book to my two granddaughters who are 13 and 16. It will be interesting to hear their comments.
Beverly (09/19/07)

Good First Effort
Before I Die is a good first effort. I felt that the first half of the book needed tighter editing; if you can get there, the second half flowed a lot better with more "action". The adult characters were not as developed as the teens were, guess that's why it's a teen/young adult novel. Because we are given Tessa's feelings about death and dying, the theme is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones.
Becky (09/19/07)

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.
Jane (09/19/07)

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'.

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