Sunday, 9 January 2011

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Target Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Genre: Fiction/Romance

Before I DieThis is one of those books that will touch you deeply forever once you read it and will make you insanely happy to be alive and thankful for what you have, and it will make you sob your heart out by the end (or in my case, shed so many tears you need to run to the bathroom and give your nose a good blow and redo all my makeup!)

Before I Die is exactly what the title implies and focuses on a young girl called Tessa who is dying of Leukemia and has only months left to live. Determined to live her final days to the full, she makes a list of things to do before she dies, at the top of which is have sex.  But as she goes through her list, other things that she didn't expect to happen, do happen and take her by surprise.

I found this book touching, funny, sad and ultimately very moving and very meaningful. Tessa's list is very very funny at times, and one of my favourites on her list was to say 'Yes' for the whole day (which has amusing yet would be dangerous consequences).  My other favourite on her list was to break the law, which was pretty funny, and gutsy i might add.
In honesty though, it's the other events that occur that really make this story truly amazing. The bombshell from Tessa's friend was perhaps the most standout (which i won't spoil on here) but it was a huge contrast with Tessa's situation and led to yet another item being added to her list.
Also, Tessa falling in love was another unexpected event for me, because to me, this was a huge risk, not just for her but for Adam the boy she falls for who ultimately knows he will lose her despite falling for her (another thing that had me in tears) and this really made me realise that some risks are really worth taking.

The relationships throughout this book between the characters were truly fantastic. Standouts included Tessa and Adam's relationship and Tessa and Zoe's friendship. The former of which was a love story that would give any romance a run for it's money.  As for Tessa and Zoe, there relationship was rocky at times but all that seems to even out as Tessa's death becomes more imminent, and i have to admit, Zoe's very real and abrupt attitude was refreshing among the usual sympathy and pity that most people treated Tessa with.
I also loved the relationship between Tessa and her brother, and there is a particular scene towards the end that i found incredibly touching.
In honesty though, there is not a bad character or relationship between any of the characters in this book, and i was totally absorbed, by everything that was going on.

In summary, this book is the most beautiful, meaningful and realistic read i have ever read, possibly ever, The ending is so moving it will have most people in tears and hearing how Tessa dying sees the world in her last moments is truly heartbreaking and when the last sentence ended i felt like my stomach had dropped about a foot in shock.  Having said that, once i got over the shock, i was left with a feeling of happiness, not to do with the ending, but the with the realisation that we all have our own lives to lead and that it isn't how long you live that matters, but what you do in the time you have.

A truly inspirational novel.

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