The story of Tessa, a young teenage girl who has only months to live ... a brilliantly crafted novel, heartbreaking yet life-affirming.
Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. Its her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of normal life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessas feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessas time finally runs out.
Before I Die
I wish I had a boyfriend. I wish he lived in the wardrobe on a coat hanger. Whenever I wanted, I could get him out and hed look at me the way boys do in films, as if Im beautiful. He wouldnt speak much, but hed be breathing hard as he took off his leather jacket and unbuckled his jeans. Hed wear white pants and hed be so gorgeous Id almost faint. Hed take my clothes off too. Hed whisper, Tessa, I love you. I really bloody love you. Youre beautiful exactly those words as he undressed me.
I sit up and switch on the bedside light. Theres a pen, but no paper, so on the wall behind me I write, I want to feel the weight of a boy on top of me. Then I lie back down and look out at the sky. Its gone a funny colour red and charcoal all at once, like the day is bleeding out.
I can smell sausages. Saturday night is always sausages. Therell be mash and cabbage ...
During the first few chapters of Before I Die, adult readers will probably be asking themselves if this is really a book for them. After all, haven't we done our time with teenage angst already and do we really want to experience it from the viewpoint of a perceptive, witty, but not always likable dying teenager? Many of those who stick through the sometimes disjointed opening chapters (disjointed because the author is channeling a teenage voice) to reach the heart of the novel will answer with a resounding yes, and all but the most hardened of cynics will be reaching for the Kleenex by the final chapters.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (672 words).
About the Author
First time author Jenny Downham caused quite a stir with Before I Die, a novel targeted at teens with crossover appeal for adults in general. Publisher David Fickling (part of Random House), who also publish The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, are so enthusiastic about the book that they rushed the 2007 hardcover into press in a fraction of the time normally taken, and foreign rights have been sold in at least 11 languages .
According to a June 2007 article in the London Times, written a month before Before I Die published in the UK, nobody is more surprised by the buzz surrounding the book than Downham herself, a single...
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Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the "stunning debut" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.
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