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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Publication Date: 9/25/2007
Publisher: David Flickling Books
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Goodreads Summary:
This beautifully crafted, eloquent novel transforms what at first seems a depressing topic (a teenager dying from leukemia) into a life-affirming, uplifting portrait of a young woman determined to live her life as fully as she can in the short time that she has left. As the heroine, 16-year-old Tessa, sets out to complete a list of things she yearns to experience before dying, her actions are genuine, her emotions raw and powerful. She's a character teens can relate to, though her situation is one most of us can't fathom. This novel brilliantly addresses the subject of death with love, anger, humor, and honesty, and, through the experiences of its brave heroine, relates a powerful message that will resonate with readers.


Tessa is a 16 year old girl living with a debilitating illness.  She was diagnosed with leukemia, and it has come to the point in which treatment won't help.  Tessa has decided that instead of prolonging her life possibly only a month while being terribly ill, she will skip the treatments and live her life feeling better and being able to do many of the things she enjoys.

Tessa has a list full of things she wants to do before she dies.  Sex, drugs, theft...mostly illegal actions are on this list, but her best friend is around to help her accomplish it all.  One thing on this list that will be difficult...love.  Not just teenage love, but a real love.  Will she get it all done in time?

This book was just heartbreaking and inspiring all in one.  This 16 year-old has more goals and thinks realistically more than any teenager I know.  She understands that life is going to end and wants to make the best of it.  She sees this more than her father.  Her mother can't seem to deal.  She never went to any of Tessa's appointments and isn't thinking clearly.  Tessa is working towards reaching all of her goals and of course, gets into trouble while doing it.  She also reaches the ultimate goal...love.  It was awesome to see Tessa find love at this stage in her life.  She may have passed away, but the love she found and had in her family will last forever.  This book was so sad at the end, even though I knew what was going to happen.  I couldn't stop thinking about how horrible it would be to know you only had a few months left to live.  It would be devastating, but Tessa most certainly made the best of it and could teach us all a few lessons.

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