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Before I Die

By Jenny Downham

(26)

| Hardcover | 9780385751551

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Book Description

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘n Continue

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s 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. Tessa’s 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 Tessa’s time finally runs out.

10 Reviews

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  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Now is (not) good

    Full review also available here: http://www.drawy.net/index.php/2013/05/now-is-good-by-j…

    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’ op ...(continue)

    Full review also available here: http://www.drawy.net/index.php/2013/05/now-is-good-by-j…

    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?

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    Drawy82 said on May 5, 2013 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Now is good

    This touching novel is about a girl who wants to live and enjoy all the things that her contemporaries have. A very sincere story. Also I like a movie Now is good, that was based on this novel/

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    Alyona said on Apr 6, 2013 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Before I Die - Jenny Downham

    This book is truly engaging, a story of the friendship and love between two people during a struggling turning point in one of their hearts. Tessa fights with life every day, knowing that she could die at any point and strives to fulfil her life to t ...(continue)

    This book is truly engaging, a story of the friendship and love between two people during a struggling turning point in one of their hearts. Tessa fights with life every day, knowing that she could die at any point and strives to fulfil her life to the potential before her time runs out. With the help of her next door neighbour she manges to overcome her fears of death and to make every moment valuable. Every page of this book gives you an insight into the fragile life of a teen with cancer and it truly makes me happy to be alive....

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    Grace Taylor said on Jun 12, 2012 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    As a genre YA is one I normally stay well away from but this was recommended by a blogging friend who very kindly sent me her copy when she had finished with it.

    I had to preserve with this one and I was at least half way through before it began to ...(continue)

    As a genre YA is one I normally stay well away from but this was recommended by a blogging friend who very kindly sent me her copy when she had finished with it.

    I had to preserve with this one and I was at least half way through before it began to have much impact. It is indeed a very sad novel and you would have to be a very hard person for it not to be an emotional read.

    The narrator is Tessa a sixteen year old that has been fighting a loosing battle with leukaemia for the past four years and has now been told that she probably just has months to live. She writes the inevitable list of things she wants to do before she dies, trying to cram them all into the few months she has left. The list includes everything from sex, drugs, crime, and fame as Tessa hurtles towards the time her body can no longer cope with the demands she has placed on it. As she tells us the story her feelings and relationships with her parents, sibling and friends are all painfully related.

    The ending is of course particularly poignant as we already know that Tessa is going to die. Reality and dreams all start to get mixed together and the closing pages are a very emotional read as those that care about her gather around her to make their farewells.

    I did not really enjoy this book and would never had chosen to read it myself had it not been recommended. I think though it is a good introduction to teenagers on the emotions that come with knowing you are dying. It will undoubtedly transfer well to the cinema and is to be released as a film Now Is Good in May 2012.

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    Lindyloumac said on Mar 11, 2012 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    After spending almost an hour in WHSmiths, I finally chose to get this book. It was a spur of the moment buy... I had never heard of the author, and I was running late so had to choose a book quickly.
    It's probably one of the best books I've ever re ...(continue)

    After spending almost an hour in WHSmiths, I finally chose to get this book. It was a spur of the moment buy... I had never heard of the author, and I was running late so had to choose a book quickly.
    It's probably one of the best books I've ever read - it made me cry, and the only other book that has EVER made me cry was P.S I Love You. It also made me think about how much we take life for granted. To read about a girl dying, yet falling in love and having so much to live for, really made me think about my own life, and how much I would hate to be in that position. It's terrificly moving.

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    Larley Xo said on Jan 9, 2010 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Do artists never read the books they illustrate? The two versions of book covers I have seen show a beautiful girl with long blond hair instead of a sickly girl with her dark hair just starting to grow in again after the chemo.

    Ah well. It is ...(continue)

    Do artists never read the books they illustrate? The two versions of book covers I have seen show a beautiful girl with long blond hair instead of a sickly girl with her dark hair just starting to grow in again after the chemo.

    Ah well. It is a beautiful book. Sixteen-year-old Tessa is, in turns, disbelieving, angry, happy, irrational, hopeful, and very much in love with the life she is about to lose. She has made a list of ten things she wants to do before she dies. The list sometimes changes, and eventually it grows longer and longer.

    It's not a depressing book -- sad, yes, but not depressing. This is a book meant for teens. It's a coming-of-age story for someone with little time left to grow up. There is quite a bit of sex in it (since that's first on the list). The book is actually very life-affirming and uplifting. Tessa lives what little life she has left to the fullest, and those around her facilitate her sometimes difficult requests.

    As an added bonus (if you're listening to the book on CD as I did), the reader, Charlotte Parry, was good, with a delightful British accent.

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    Missmath144 said on Apr 15, 2009 | Add your feedback

Book Details

  • Rating:
    (26)
    • 5 stars
    • 4 stars
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  • English Books
  • Hardcover 326 Pages
  • ISBN-10: 0385751559
  • ISBN-13: 9780385751551
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books
  • Publish date: 2007-09-25
  • Dimensions: 180 mm x 948 mm x 1,418 mm
  • Also available as: Paperback , Audio CD , Others , eBook
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