Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Before I Die

Before I Die
Author: Jenny Downham
Publisher: Random House

Have your tissues ready when you pick up Jenny Downham’s fantastic debut novel Before I Die. It is the heartbreaking yet joyous story of a teenage girl, Tessa who begins making a list of things she wants to do before she dies; kiss a boy, have sex, fall in love, shoplift, try drugs, get drunk, spend a whole day saying yes to everything.

The only problem is time is fast running out.

Tessa is dying.

So with just months to live as her cancer filled body slowly shuts down, Tessa realises her life will be over before it really begins and thus, starts stubbornly ticking off her to do list - even if it will kill her quicker. And in the process, she discovers her identity and sense of self and all told in a remarkably uplifting, touching and soul stirring manner.

Don’t let the fact that the book is marketed as young adult fiction put you off. I left my teenage years behind quite a while ago now yet I loved every bit of this novel. I laughed out loud at and with Tessa, I tisked at her rebellious behaviour, I cringed at her squirm worthy embarrassing moments, I felt her resoluteness at the endless hospital trips, needles and nurses, and boy, I cried when she cried. Any book that can provoke such strong reactions in its reader is a definite winner, no matter what the publishers decide the target audience should be.


First published in Nexus Magazine, Issue 7, 5 May 2008. Reproduced with kind permission.


Kate said...

Ditto my comment on the last post for this one too (she says whilst furiously writing the book title on her scrap of paper...!)

sarah said...

you have quite the talent for reviewing books, Kelly. I couldn't do it half as well as you can. :)