Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Before I Die

Rate this book
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. 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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published July 5, 2007

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jenny Downham

10 books1,025 followers
Jenny Downham (born 1964) is a British novelist and an ex-actor. In her first book, Before I Die, the fictional account of the last few months of a sixteen-year-old girl who has been dying of leukemia for 4 years. The book is told in the first person. The book was acclaimed and was short-listed for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the 2008 Branford Boase Award.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
16,844 (30%)
4 stars
18,509 (33%)
3 stars
14,202 (25%)
2 stars
4,347 (7%)
1 star
1,442 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,438 reviews
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
May 23, 2010
This book about broke my heart. It's not as if I didn't know how it would end - the title says it all, but I didn't expect to be touched by the story to such a degree.

The premise of Before I Die is quite simple - Tessa is 16 and dying of leukemia. She knows that she has only a few months to live and struggles to come to terms with her fate. Trying to make the best of the time she has left, Tessa comes up with a list of things she would like to experience before she dies. Some items on the list are silly - to try drugs, to commit a crime, to become famous - but one desire overwhelmes Tessa. She wants to experience love, but knowing that there is no way it is possible in her circumstances, she settles for having sex. This is how the story starts. The first sexual experience doesn't make Tessa feel any better, in fact, she is crushed more than ever. But things change when she gets to know her new neighbor - an 18-year old boy Adam, who has a heartbreaking story of his own...

Just like another similarly themed favorite book of mine If I Stay, Before I Die never crosses over into the area of melodrama, and this is very important to me, because I despise being emotionally manipulated by books. The characters are real, their pain is real, Tessa's journey from depression to anger to resignation to temporary happiness is poignant and her everyday desire to live and not let go of her waning life is heartbreaking.

I loved many things about this book - the narration, tragic but with a touch of humor; the love story, which is definitely one of the best I've ever read. But mostly I loved that this book reminded me of importance of the most mundane things in my life - the ability to spend time with my family, to enjoy a simple walk, and to plan for future.

A beautiful debut by Jenny Downham.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,116 followers
October 4, 2019
3.5 ⭐️

I’ve watched the film Now is Good, which I believe is based on this book, so I did notice a few familiar parts.

Tessa has leukaemia. She has very little time left to live, and she is determined to do a few things before her time comes. The main one being sex. Shortly followed by drugs, breaking the law etc. etc.

I liked Tessa’s character – she is angry, she is unreasonable, she is dying – is there any right way to be? Sometimes she made me mad, but then that is the point. I loved her dad and her brother Cal, they were both so good for her. Her best friend Zoey was a bit hit and miss but again it proves how imperfect humans are, and how we are all just muddling along as best we can.
There we some parts I didn’t like – fat shaming and anti-abortion are the main two I can think of right now.

Overall, this is a powerful read on what is truly important, and it really does make you appreciate being alive.


I seem to have a sadness wish by requesting all these emo reads from the library
Profile Image for Ari.
940 reviews1,315 followers
June 20, 2011
This review can be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com

I don't really know what to say about this book. I didn't like it that much, but I didn't hate it either..

The bad:

For the most part of the story I didn't really care about Tessa, about her illness and her strange wishes (as I never got attached to her). I understand the desire to have a boyfriend, to be kissed and have sex, probably at her age this would be an important part of her life, but the other 'wishes' were kind of stupid and not the ones that someone would like to think about before dying. I just expected something else from her and I was disappointed by all this.

More than this I hated her dumb friend who reminded her every 5 minutes that she's gonna die and who was NEVER there for her (and when she tried to help Tessa with her stupid wishes I just wanted to punch her for being such an idiot and not being a good friend at all), I hated her little brother telling her that he can't wait for her to be gone (sometimes he seemed to be 5 years old even if we've been told he was older), I hated her mother who seemed not to care about her at all. Ok, so there were lots of things I didn't like in this book.

The good:

The only character that I liked was Adam. I don't know why he fell in love with Tessa because she didn't even deserved it (and didn't deserve him) and because this happened so suddenly, but he was really nice and caring. There were some scenes with him being there for her and giving her all his love that made me like him more. I felt sad for him, really, because Tessa was going to die and that was the end for her, but he will remember her all his life, he will lose a part of him forever.. so he was the only character in this book that made me care. There were times that Tessa wanted him close, and there were times when she told him to get away and never come back, but he was always there for her, never disappointing her.

‘I love you,’ he whispers angrily into my neck. ‘It hurts more than anything ever has, but I do. So don’t you dare tell me I don’t. Don’t you ever say it again!’

The best part of this book is of course the ending. All those dreams mixed with reality and thoughts, the notes for the ones she was letting behind, the people that cared for her being finally there for her, that was the only part that touched my heart, that was the only part that made me care, because death is hard even if only written in the books, death makes you cry, death makes you think about all the thing that you want to do while still alive..

SO, what's on your list?
You never know how much time you have.. so, how many items on your list did you check so far, and how many are still waiting to be done?

Profile Image for Penny.
215 reviews1,367 followers
September 30, 2014
I feel like a jerk for not giving this story more stars. I mean, it's a book about a sixteen year old girl trying to live life to the fullest before dying of cancer. I keep thinking only a heartless baby-eating monster would give this book less then four stars.

Well, I suppose I am that monster, minus the whole baby-eating thing.

It's not like the premise failed to pull at my heartstrings--as I read this book I genuinely felt for the girl. And it's not like the author went out of her way to manipulate her audience. This book never crosses the line into full on manipulation, though there are times I feel it comes close, but not enough to bother me.

My problem lies with the protagonist, Tessa.

Yeah, you read that right. I don't like the main character, a teenage girl dying of cancer.

Before you start throwing things let me explain. Like I said before, I felt for Tessa, because her situation is incredibly tragic, but, I'm sorry, she sucks. I know she's dying but that doesn't give her an excuse to manipulate everyone around her into doing what she wants them to do. Dying young isn't some "get out of jail free card" you can wave around when your actions have negative consequences that you'd rather not face.

Here's the deal: Tessa has a list of ten things she wants to do before she dies. Sounds good, right? Well, the majority of the things on the list are reckless or selfish or illegal or just plain stupid. Sometime a combination of all four. And you know what? That's not so bad, doesn't necessarily bother me. Teenagers do stupid, selfish and/or illegal stuff. Tessa wants to sow some wild oats before dying. I get it.

What bothers me is the fact that she believes the rules shouldn't apply to her because she is dying--she can do whatever she wants, damn the consequences.

What's worse, Tessa demands a lot from her friends and family. At times she asks them to do things that, even under the tragic circumstances, are too much to ask. When they seem reluctant to comply she tells them that whatever it is she's asking happens to be on her list. Most of the time these things were not on her list until, conveniently, they were. It's her manipulation that really gets to me. I hate that she resorts to manipulation to get whatever she wants.

At one point Tessa throws a monumental fit (I mean, off the charts huge) because she doesn't get what she wants when she wants it--to make love with her boyfriend. Don't get me wrong, I knew her her freak out had more to do with the fact that she's dying so young, before she's old enough to really do anything, be anyone, then anything else. But still, she took it a little too far, I think.

In the end I got the idea that she had a full grasp at what was truly important in life. But for me, Tessa's understanding came too late in the game. It happened so late, that I, heartless monster that I am, had already spent some time wondering when she was going to "just die already". Yes, this really did go through my mind, more then a few times, near the end of this book--if this weren't a total work of fiction, I'd be going to hell for that, I'm sure.

I know I'm a monster for not giving this book more stars, unfortunately I'm unable to give this book more then the two stars I've given it.

P.S. Because I'm unable to recommend Before I Die to anyone I'm going to go ahead and recommend Before I Fall, which is another YA book which deals with death and is, in my humble opinion, infinitely better then this book.
Profile Image for Lacey Louwagie.
Author 7 books60 followers
October 12, 2007
I started this book wondering, "Why am I reading this?" and I ended it wondering, "Why did I read this?" But my two reasons for thinking these things were very different.

In the beginning, I felt like this book would be a repetition of "Skinny," a massive disappointment in which the author was enamored with the idea of a sick, frail, floundering heroine. The heroine in this book started out looking more or less the same: "I'm sick, I'm gonna die, the world sucks, so leave me alone."

Tessa begins the book by deciding that she wants to have sex before she dies. With the help of her friend Zoey, this begins Tessa's list of things to experience before she dies. [In case you're wondering, I decided to read this because I related to "the list."] She keeps the list written on her wall, which alarms her father when he sees the things she plans to do (break the law, try drugs, become famous etc.) And as cheesy as it's going to sound, this really did end up being a book about life in all its beauty and complexity. Tessa's world didn't stop because she was dying and I feel that Ms. Downham did a good job of capturing the complexity of emotions here -- Tessa's boyfriend's decision to move away for college so he wouldn't be reminded of her, Tessa's father constantly wavering between needing to discipline her and wanting to cherish his last months with her, her younger brother's inability to really process what was happening. So besides a few characters that could have been fleshed out a little more, the middle of this book is actually quite good.

Of course, we all know how the book is going to end. But I didn't know I was going to spend the last 30 pages sobbing. Poor Joker was so freaked out. And it was so painful that I asked why the heck I put myself through reading a book where I knew the main character would most likely end up dead.

But I did, and got about 3.5 stars out of it. I can tell you this: It ain't Lurlene McDaniel.
Profile Image for Ashley.
Author 7 books251 followers
August 17, 2008
We know three pages into “Before I Die” that sixteen-year-old Tessa won’t survive her leukemia--and that there��s plenty she still wants from life. So she makes a list and vows to do everything on it before she dies.

Like most teenagers, Tessa is at odds with her parents and angsty about how life’s shortchanged her. At first her ranting and left-field demands seem too adolescent. Isn’t the looming presence of death supposed to mature her beyond her years?

But that’s precisely the kind of “dying-young” trope that Downham admirably resists throughout the novel. Tessa burns up a maddening number of days moping when we think she should be fulfilling her dreams. She finally pushes herself to face facts: “I have two choices--stay wrapped in blankets and get on with dying, or get the list back together and get on with living.”

Downham escapes the common shortcoming of many young adult novels in which the only character that ever really matters to us is the speaker. In this novel, Tessa’s relationships are so dynamic that we ache with her at the thought of losing them. Throughout the book, their interactions thrum with tension and tenderness.

There’s Cal, the tactless younger brother who helpfully explains the process of decomposition. And Zoe, the careless best friend who has her own troubles to wake her up to life. There’s Dad in denial, determined to save Tessa through organic foods and fierce hugs. Mom, who cut out about the time of Tessa’s diagnosis and who remains slightly outside of the helping circle (without becoming a monster). And there’s Adam, the blessing of love and vulnerability that lands next door to Tessa at the right time.

And where a lesser writer might swill us readers around in dying-girl thought soup, Downham lets the telling detail speak for Tessa’s feelings instead. Her anger comes to us through her as she gives herself points for the imagined deaths of healthy strangers: “One point for the lump on her neck, raw and pink as a crab’s claw.” We feel her hunger for life as she licks an ice-cream stick until “the wood rasps my tongue.” We know her true well-wishes for those she loves as she dreams up a replacement for her boyfriend, a “girl with lovely curves and breath like oranges.”

There’s nothing treacly here. It’s a brave, humanist novel, one that leaves the reader gulping the polluted, precious air of Tessa’s world with a passion and astonishment almost as great as Tessa’s. Downham earns for us the catharsis of the ending, for her characters come to take up real space in our hearts. Up until the last word, I think, we hope that Tessa will somehow, against all odds, keep breathing.

When she doesn’t, we mourn for Tessa just as she wished: by remembering her.
Profile Image for Lora.
186 reviews1,001 followers
March 30, 2011
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Tessa's been battling leukemia since the age of twelve. But now, when Tessa is sixteen, the doctors have told her that further treatment is futile and that there isn't much more they can do.
Realizing that she'll not be able to do all of the things that normal girls get to, she makes a list of ten things she wants to do before she dies. This list includes everything from sex to driving her father's car without a licence. And even as the novel rushes toward its inevitably sad ending, you can't help but fall for Tessa's character and root for her even as she does the extreme, falls in love, and, ultimately, learns what it's like to really live.

Before I Die is definitely one of the most poignant and riveting novels I've read in a long time. This story is heartbreaking, beautifully written, and absolutely unforgettable. The author does a wonderful job of bringing the reader's emotions to the surface. I think I cried about five times during the last quarter of this.

The thing is, you know from the very beginning that Tessa's going to die. But even though the ending is expected, it still hurts. Over the course of the novel you really grow attached to Tessa's character and want her to live almost as much as she does.

I won't divulge whom Tessa falls in love with, since the summary doesn't, but I will say this: The romance in this is at once beautiful and bittersweet. You want Tessa to have everything she's being denied because of her life being cut short, including a romance. And she has one. But it's hell on the heart of the reader.

Despite the grimness of this story, I do believe that I'll re-read it someday. Not any time soon, of course, but definitely someday.

I suggest to anyone that wants to read this that they wait until they're in the mood for something decidedly emotional and sad.

"When I look at him it feels like fear. His eyes are green and full of shadows. His mouth is beautiful.
He leans towards me and I know. I know.
It hasn't happened yet, but it's going to.
Number eight is love."

(On a side note, You Against Me is Jenny Downham's next novel, set to release September 13 in the US. And if the writing in this is any indication, You Against Me should be amazing.)
Profile Image for Flannery.
311 reviews
April 13, 2011
Tessa has been treated for leukemia for the past four years. Now, since her treatment options have been exhausted, she is spending her last few months completing a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The list includes some predictable items (breaking a few laws, driving, having sex) and a few curveballs (experiencing love, getting her parents back together) but most of the book is dedicated to Tessa’s experiences as she attempts to finish her list and come to terms with her death.

Have you ever seen that Dane Cook standup bit where he talks about how we cry? He starts off talking about how you just start out crying and then it goes downhill from there as we imagine all the worst things possible to make us cry even harder. I’m not advocating Dane Cook’s standup (I’m much more of a Jim Gaffigan girl) but I always laugh at Cook’s crying bit because he’s pretty spot-on. I read the first 50 pages of this when I was PMSing and I was like “This is so awful! It must be so terrible for Tessa and her family. She’ll never get to do x. She’ll never get to do y. Oh my God, it must be terrible for these families. Losing a child is horrible. This is awful for her brother. What if I lost MY brother? What if I died? What if one of my siblings died? I miss my grandparents. I can’t believe I wasn’t more there for my friend when she lost x. What will I do when I lose my parents?!” and by this point I can’t even open my eyes. So, yeah, I put this one back down for a week. Aaaand, when I picked it back up, I was able to complete most of the book with a straight face. (until the ending, when I totally lost it again) But the point is that I was mostly crying because I exacerbated the situation by my own volition. You might not cry in this one.

The writing in this one is pretty solid but I’m a little ashamed to say that Tessa is a frustrating character. She has a right to be selfish but she goes beyond that--she is often unnecessarily mean at times, mostly to her father. Her mother, on the other hand, deserves all the meanness Tessa could dish out to her. (which, sadly, doesn’t really happen) It takes a certain type of horribleness to abandon your sick child. It’s hard to know what to do when people are sick, or how to help your friends when they are losing or have lost someone. We are all pretty much winging it. But just being there is often enough—and Tessa’s mother couldn’t even be present for years of her daughter’s illness. She can join the father from another recent read of mine, Sisters in Sanity, in the Awful YA Parent Club.

I felt like the most interesting part of the book had nothing to do with Tessa’s list or her budding love. I most enjoyed her interactions with her brother. The factoids they shared and the frank discussions about what happens when you die were so interesting to me—I’m still thinking about the way the author described being buried under an apple blossom tree. (I loved that bit) And I also really enjoyed Tessa’s notes to her family and Zoey. These arent’ really spoilers, in case anyone is wondering…

I have no clue who I would recommend this to. My Goodreads friends are all over the ratings scale and I’m staking my flag down in the 3-star zone. I guess if you “enjoy” books about death and dying, or if you are looking for a cry, this might be a good pick for you. I mean, sometimes I watch Little Women just to cry when Beth dies. We’re all a little messed up—at least, I hope it’s not just me.
Profile Image for N.
838 reviews195 followers
December 5, 2008
This is a morbid little story. Beautiful, but morbid. I can't help thinking that the author demands instant literary kudos simply by dealing with the uncomfortable subject of teenage death. Unfortunately, I don't think the novel quite deserves that kudos. It provides no great profundity and, though poignant, I can't help but think it compares poorly to the 2003 movie, My Life Without Me.

For a start, the central character, Tessa is hard to like. There's a prickly sullenness about her that is particularly teenaged. It's well-observed, but other authors have managed to tease more nuance from their teenage characters. Her best friend, Zoey is even worse: shallow and annoying. Adam, the literal boy next door, is so gruff as to seem devoid of personality – merely a prop to deliver Tessa a chance at romantic love before she dies.

Since the novel's summary spoils a major plot point, I will also talk about it: Zoey's pregnancy, a badly-veiled authorial device (life/death, geddit?), manages to glorify teen pregnancy. Slutty, reckless Zoey could do with therapy to deal with her distant parents, some self-esteem building, or simply the chance to grow up. Instead, she gets a band-aid baby. Ironically, many of the things dying Tessa craves for herself – the chance to go to university and travel the world – Zoey is denied, rewarded instead with a council flat and vouchers to exchange for furnishings.

Though well-written, the novel is a bit predictable. Tessa has sex with a stranger and it's bad; then she falls in love and waxes rhapsodic about her second sexual experience. She tries drugs and the author gets carried away with ~*poetic descriptions of her drug-induced state. Blah blah blah. It's a short book but it feels like a long slog to the inevitable conclusion.

Sure, the ending made me cry. But then, I also cried while listening to 'The Luckiest' by Ben Folds yesterday. Death is sad. It doesn't take a great writer to squeeze pathos from teenage death.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,158 reviews606 followers
September 16, 2017
I am very appreciative of my public library withdrawing books from their collection and selling them for 20c! It was on my TBR too, so even better.

This was a very sweet story, well written and a sincere rendition involving a sixteen year old girls' end of life. The author captured the angst and wistfulness of Tessa, who ambitiously sets herself a list of things to achieve before she dies. Family relationships, sex, love and a little bit of recklessness, a best friend and an estranged mum all come together to create something that felt very real.

I loved the relationship between brother and sister, and daughter and father. There were many tender and touching scenes, and I was very sad as I turned the last page.

Innocent but heartfelt scenes of falling in love were realistic, and I think young girls would love this story. This was still a light enough read given the heavy topic.
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews626 followers
June 1, 2018
I was quite young when I first read this but it broke my heart ! This had funny moments but was also a tear jerker. I had difficulty finishing the last pages as I was blinded by tears. I haven't read it since then but I think the younger me would have given the book this rating.
Profile Image for Michael.
57 reviews29 followers
October 19, 2007
This one snuck up on me. I thought that I was reading just a sweet inspirational tale about a dying girl, and the next thing I know I'm sobbing in a Chinese restaurant on 8th Avenue.
The review that inspired me to pick this one up, said that the only thing wrong with this book was that the publisher decided to market it as "young-adult", so it may never get the readership it deserves.
It was reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks', A Walk to Remember, but with much more of an edge. The girl in this novel is making a list of things that she wants to do before she dies, and they are things like sex, drugs, shoplifting...
I highly recommend this one. It will surprise you in the end.
Profile Image for Chiara Cilli.
Author 51 books614 followers
February 10, 2017

Così reale da farti male. Malissimo.

Mio padre è morto a mezzanotte del 1 Febbraio 2016.
Tumore al polmone destro, con metastasi surrenali e cerebrali. Negli ultimi mesi si è esteso alla pelle e alle ossa. Ci ha messo otto mesi per divorarlo, neanche un anno.

Non avrei dovuto acquistare questo libro.
Non avrei dovuto vedere il film, qualche settimana fa.
Non avrei dovuto leggere questo libro.

Perché l'ho vissuto, e anche noi non siamo riusciti a salvare papà.

E' da troppo tempo che sto male, la malattia mi ha gonfiato il corpo e l'ha fatto marcire, mi ha chiazzato la pelle, sfaldato le unghie, sterminato i capelli e riempito di nausea fin dentro le ossa.

Non ho vissuto bene questa lettura, ed è comprensibile, no? Perciò non ve ne posso parlare. Mi posso limitare a riportarvi le citazioni che più mi hanno colpito, ma nulla di più. Credo che chi abbia visto una persona amata svanire per colpa del cancro percepisca questo romanzo in modo del tutto diverso da un altro lettore.

 Adam dice: "Tu mi piaci, Tessa."
Deglutisco, mi fa male la gola. "Davvero?"
"Quando sei venuta a buttare la roba nel falò hai detto che volevi liberarti di tutte le tue cose. Hai detto che mi guardavi dalla finestra. Di solito la gente non parla così."
"Ti ho spaventato?"
"Al contrario." Si guarda i piedi, come se potessero suggerirgli qualcosa. "Però non posso darti quello che vuoi."

Forse posso parlarvi di Adam.
Questo ragazzo è un Angelo ▬ sì, con la A maiuscola. Non credo in queste cose, ma riconosco che Adam è stato il custode di Tessa, fino alla fine.

"Tessa," dice. E' un avvertimento, lo so, ma non importa.
"Cos'è la cosa peggiore che può succedere?"
"Che faccia male," dice.
"Fa già male."

Ma per quanto la storia di Adam e Tessa mi abbia distratto, non potevo dimenticare che il Male era sempre lì, in agguato.

Pronto a esplodere fiume di sangue.
Io ho un unguento per il naso che si chiama Epistas.

"Devi smetterla, papà."
"Smettere cosa?""Di far finta che guarirò."

Ho odiato tutti i miei parenti che erano sempre così ottimisti. Esserlo, in queste situazioni, è una sporca presa in giro. Io e la mamma non lo siamo mai state.
Avrei voluto prendere un coltello e tagliare via i sorrisi di tutte le persone che venivano a trovare papà.

 "Adam è ancora un ragazzo, Tessa. Non devi contare troppo su di lui: potrebbe deluderti."
 "Non mi deluderà."
 "E se lo facesse?"
 "Ci sei sempre tu, no?"

Sì, le persone che ti amano non ti abbandonano.
Non importa quanto sia dura.

If you love someone, you don't leave them.

"Non lasciarmi cadere."
"Ti tengo."
"Sto cadendo"
"Sono qui. Ti tengo."

Ma a un certo punto non puoi più farlo.

 "Io ti amo," mi sussurra rabbiosamente nell'orecchio. "E' la cosa più dolorosa che abbia mai fatto in vita mia, ma ti amo. Quindi non azzardarti a metterlo in dubbio. Non azzardarti mai più!"

A un certo punto, il Male ti farà ciao ciao con la sua schifosa mano scheletrica, un sorriso storto, e si porterà via chi ami.

 "Tra un po' comincerà a passarti la voglia di mangiare. Probabilmente avrai molta voglia di dormire. In genere non ti andrà di parlare, ma tra un sonno e l'altro potresti accumulare energie sufficienti per qualche breve conversazione. Potresti persino aver voglia di andare giù in salotto o anche in giardino, se fa abbastanza caldo e se tuo padre se la sente di trasportarti. Ma soprattutto dormirai. Tra qualche giorno comincerai a perdere e riacquistare conoscenza, e in quella fase potresti non essere più in grado di interagire, però avvertirai la presenza delle persone intorno a te e sarai in grado di sentirle parlare. Alla fine, Tess, scivolerai via."

L'ultima cosa che sono riuscita a dire a mio padre, quando ancora mi sentiva, è stata: «Stasera fa Pretty Little Liars, lo sai?». Lui si è portato l'indice alle labbra, come Aria, e . . .


Alla fine del libro ci sono quattro pagine con scritto ANNOTAZIONI.
Ancora non ho trovato il coraggio di scriverci.

Istanti. Si avvicinano tutti a questo.

Leggi la recensione sul blog
|| Facebook || Twitter || Pinterest ||
Profile Image for Carlos De Eguiluz.
226 reviews192 followers
May 22, 2017
La muerte. Que conjunto de palabras tan pequeño, pero tan inquietante.
He estado pensando bastante en ella, ¿saben?, y he llegado a una conclusión: Podemos observarla de manera objetiva siempre y cuando no nos afecte a nosotros o a alguien que nos importa. Sin embargo, cuando toca a nuestra puerta, todo es distinto; la observamos subjetivamente y le atribuimos el pesar que le corresponde dadas nuestras experiencias, nuestras memorias, y nuestros momentos. No obstante, al final de cuentas la muerte es igual, sigue siendo el desenlace de todos nosotros, ya sea el tuyo, el mío, el de algún ser querido, o incluso el de alguna otra persona perdida en este mar de pobladores que habitan nuestro planeta.
La muerte es la muerte. Es el fin de un desarrollo. ¿El paso a un nuevo comienzo? Tal vez, no lo sé, y apuesto a que tú tampoco lo sabes.
La muerte es compleja sólo cuando queremos que lo sea, pero puede ser tan malditamente sencilla...

Volviendo al tópico, este es un libro de cáncer.
Tessa tiene dieciséis años y se está muriendo.
La chica no es audaz, no es una heroína y tampoco quería hacer las grandes cosas.
Tessa tiene dieciséis años y tiene leucemia.
¿Injusto lo que le pasa? Tal vez, pero, ¿quién dijo que la vida lo era?
Tessa tiene dieciséis años y sabe que se va a morir.
Ahora lo que importa es lo que hará antes de ello.
Profile Image for Aly (Fantasy4eva).
240 reviews122 followers
November 20, 2015

“I love you. I love you. I send this message through my fingers and into his, up his arm and into his heart. Hear me. I love you. And I'm sorry to leave you.”

Rated: 4.5

first read in August 11th 2009 (rated four stars)

wow. such a long time ago.

How did I not see the gorgeousness that is this book the first time around?
“I want to die in my own way. It's my illness, my death, my choice. This is what saying yes means.”

“when I was four I almost fell down the shaft of a tin mine and when I was five the car rolled over on the motorway and when I was seven we went on holiday and the gas ring blew out in the caravan and nobody noticed

I've been dying all my life”

Rereading this was such a different experience. Despite the fact that I spent a lot of the first few pages cringing (lets just say the first time she had sex wasn't exactly romantic.) But this is why I love the nitty grittiness that is this book. There are many cringe- worthy and hugely awkward moments. Bits that will make you laugh at the most inappropriate of times. The characters cuss, sex is very much a topic, as is pregnancy, drugs and parents who pretty much aren't much of parents and those that definitely are. These topics are very much set on the table for the reader to explore. And it's one of my favourte parts of the book. Because she doesn't tone things down for you. Because guess what? When they have sex, they're not just holding hands and kissing and then BAM - right on to the next scene. Guys, they actually have SEX. And you will see the moments leading up to it and after it. And yes, you will cringe and it is awkward, but at other times it is right and kind of beautiful.
It is real. It makes me feel like I am actually reading about teenagers, about real life, and it's the realness of this book - this tone is sets - that I just LOVE.

I feel like when I first read it, all those years ago, I didn't really get the book. Or more specifically, I just didn't want to. But reading it now I realise what a unflinching, raw, poignant and honest story this is of a girl who is too young to die. Who although doesn't cry at the unfairness of it all like you would think someone in her position would, instead, focuses on the now. On the list that she is absolutely determined to finish before she dies that includes: having sex, saying yes to everything for one day, to having tea and many other other things. She is a tough girl to like at times. Although she is angry sometimes - at the world really - she has the tendency to take it out on the person who most -definitely (in my opinion) loves her most. Her father. He is marvelous. Every single day he brings a tray to bed with her pills, he is there for every blood transfusion and procedure. And when she needs to vent, he stands there and takes blow after blow. Because he knows that she needs to. He has quit his job, stayed strong and supported his two children when the woman he loved left him and their children to 'explore the world'.

Tessa has this very iffy personality. She tends to ramble a lot, but it never grated on me, in fact, I found it quite endearing. And she does this thing where she purposely likes to make people feel uncomfortable - probably because she's bitter. She plays up (like the time she pretended she couldn't move her arms due to her illness) just because she can. She's mean to her dad, annoying mean. She does inconsiderate things like burning, photos, diary entries and clothes - things that her family would most likely want unharmed to remember her by. She never takes these things into account though.

She shares strange - at time unhealthy relationship with her best mate, Zoey - who is equally as iffy as her. The two spend most of the novel taking the piss out of each other, making snide remarks and being bitchy. A lot of the time I didn't get why they were mates. They didn't even seem to like each other all that much. Tessa's ramblings got on Zoey's nerves, and Zoeys tendency to put others first upset Tessa a lot of the time. But I think the thing is that in some shitty way they connect. They are both hurting in different ways, and I think that due to Zoey's family never being there, she's found a sort of stability, a happiness, around Tessa and her family than she ever has with hers.

One specific thing that was immediately called to my attention when I started reading this was just how authentically British it was. I've read a lot of UK based books, but this one seems to hit closer to home. I feel like the author ticked every box with this book in comparison to how everything just felt wrong with You Against Me. Their voices felt relatable, the chocolates, sweets, the places, the shops, the slang - basically everything they spoke of was home to me. It made her journey all the more real. And if that was what the author was aiming for, well, she sure as hell succeeded.

You know, I cried. Even thought I never thought I would. But there were moments where I would feel myself chocking up, and it was near the end where I just really couldn't hold it back anymore. Although at times she annoyed me, I couldn't not forgive her. And her mother - I was tempted to gather all my anger and frustration and hurl it all at her. But what is even the point? Not only is that woman pathetic but just a lost cause. I just really wish that she would have let her have it harder. Her mother needed to know how hard she messed up.
And then there is Carl - her younger brother. He is endearing. Him and Tessa share a mixed relationship of sorts. He's too young to really know what to do with the situation his sister is in. And whilst a lot of the time he wants to spend time with her, but at the same time he also has to deal with his dad giving his sister a lot of the attention. And although he never complains, it's clear that it's something that plays on his mind. He's too small to understand it fully. But he knows enough to be devastated and scared. The two have some beautiful moments.

Taking you through all these aspects of the novel actually made me forget one of the main bits. And that is the love interest, Adam. Again, this boy I don't know what to make of. Because honestly, how often in YA do you get put with a love interest who our protagonist admits is ugly? Once I was over the confusion and as to what to do with this bit of information, or how to react, I just went with the flow. Now Adam is pretty perfect. Looks aside, he's a little too perfect. Although at first he's reluctant because he's afraid of the two of them getting hurt, eventually he opens himself up. And their moments are truly beautiful (the foot moment, ermm, not so much). He is also practically a carer for his mum who has never quite been the same since her husband died. He has put everything on hold for his mother - including education - and it's not until he meets Tessa that he starts to feel. The thing is that I had a tough time believing in him at times. There are so many questions. Am I supposed to buy that they fell in love so quickly? Would a guy in his position stick around for so long when she is wasting away like that? Would he be so understating and committed? I don't know. It's partly the reason for it not getting five stars. But it also adds a sweetness to an already bitter story.

BEFORE I DIE completely caught me off guard. I finished it very heavy hearted and sad. Noticing how there was sunshine outside after what seemed like forever, I stuck my head out my widow and just stood there for some time trying to make sense of it all. How I was standing here, strong and alive when this girl deteriorated day after day.

Where is the fairness in that?

And it's so simple. it's not OK. And it's not fair. But it's the cruel way of life. I am so in awe of Tessa. Of her ability to take her condition on the chin and try to live life to the fullest, to never give up and want and want and want until his love for her consumes her. There is so much wanting in her. She wants so much to marry, have children, go university, travel the world that it makes you think - how the hell can I not appreciate these things and not take on the world?

I guess the fact that this book is all kinds of beautiful factors hugely in my love for it.
Just read it.

My favourite quotes :)

“It's utterly beautiful not to know my own edges.”

“She'll understand what I already know - that death surrounds us all. And it tastes like metal between your teeth.”

“I want the people I love to get up and speak about me, and even if you cry it'll be OK. I want you to say honest things.”

“There's a terrible stillness. I notice a small tear in the wallpaper above her shoulder. I notice finger marks grimed on the light switch. Somewhere down in the house, a door opens and shuts. As Zoey turns to face me, I realize that life is made up of a series of moments, each one a journey to the end.”

“Cal says that humans are made from the nuclear ash of dead stars. He says that when I die, I'll return to dust, glitter,rain. If thats true, I want to be buried right here under this tree. Its roots will reach into the soft mess of my body and suck me dry. I'll be re-formed as apple blossom. I'll drift down in the spring like confetti and cling to my family's shoes. They'll carry me in their pockets to help them sleep. What dreams will they have then?”

“All I know is that I have two choices – stay wrapped in blankets and get on with dying, or get the list back together and get on with living.”

“We said we'd be friends.'
He looks confused. 'Yeah.'
I don't want to be.'
There's space between us, and in that space there's darkness. I take another step, so close that we share a breath. The same one. In and out.
Tess,' he says. I know it's a warning, but I don't care.
What's the worst thing that can happen?'
It'll hurt,' he says.
It already hurts.'

“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 he'd look at me the way boys do in films, as if I'm beautiful.”

I don't want to be dead.
I haven't been loved like this way for long enough.
Profile Image for Eleni Ouzouni (Life is Art).
272 reviews131 followers
August 27, 2015
“Keep breathing. Just keep doing it. It's easy. In and out.”

Το Before I Die είναι το πρώτο βιβλίο της Βρετανίδας συγγραφέας Jenny Downham. Αν και το έχω αρκετό καιρό να με περιμένει στα ράφια μου ήμουν πάντα αρκετά φοβισμένη να το διαβάσω. Όταν ξέρεις από την αρχή πως η ιστορία σου δεν είναι ευχάριστη, δεν έχει happy end και καταπιάνεται με ένα δύσκολο θέμα τον καρκίνο μπαίνουν πολλές σκέψεις για το αν είσαι στην διάθεση να το διαβάσεις. Πολύ αναγνώστες μένουν μακριά από αυτά τα είδη βιβλίων αλλά το Before I Die καταφέρνει να ξεχωρίσει να δώσει μια δικιά του απόχρωση.

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 he'd look at me the way boys do in films, as if I'm beautiful.

Η πρωταγωνίστρ��α μας είναι η Tessa μια δεκαεξάχρονη κοπέλα που πάσχει από Λευχαιμία. Τις απομένουν μόνο λίγους μήνες ζωής. Έτσι φτιάχνει μια λίστα με όλα τα πράγματα που θέλει να κάνει πριν πεθάνει. Και εφαρμόζει κατευθείαν το σχέδιο της έτσι κάθε φορά που πετυχαίνει τον στόχο της νιώθει πως είναι λίγο πιο ζωντανή από πριν. Η λίστα περιλαμβάνει πράγματα όπως τα ναρκωτικά, το σεξ, το να κάνει παρανομίες, το να ερωτευτεί και το να μάθει να οδηγεί. Κάνεις στην ζωή της όμως δεν μπορεί να χειριστεί πραγματικά αυτήν την κατάσταση. Ο μπαμπάς της βρίσκετε σε άρνηση, η αποξενωμένη μαμά της προβληματισμένη και η κολλητή της απλά δεν την καταλαβαίνει. Μέσα όμως από την φιλία της με τον γείτονα η Tessa βρίσκει ένα φωτεινό σημείο στην ζωή της μαθαίνει πως δεν είναι ποτέ αργά να ερωτευτείς.
Το σώμα της Tessa κάθε μέρα εξασθενεί και περισσότερο, το νιώθει να χάνεται να λιώνει μπροστά της και η ίδια αρχίζει να αναρωτιέται αν είναι έτοιμη να αντιμετωπίσει το αναπόφευκτο αντίο...

"I love you. I love you. I send this message through my fingers and into his, up his arm and into his heart. Hear me. I love you. And I'm sorry to leave you."

Η Tessa είναι ένας τόσος ενδιαφέρον και περίπλοκος χαρακτήρας. Είναι αντιδραστική και δεν φέρετε πάντα καλά στους ανθρώπους. Είναι μια έφηβη γεμάτη οργή και φόβο. Εγωκεντρική θέλει όλοι να ασχολούνται μαζί της. Ποιος όμως μπορεί στο τέλος να την κατηγορήσει για αυτό; Όταν έχει χάσει όλα τα παιδικά της χρόνια, όταν επί τέσσερα χρόνια μπαινοβγαίνει όλοι μέρα στα νοσοκομεία και κάνει βαριές θεραπείες αλλά το κυριότερο ότι θα φύγει από αυτήν την ζωή έτσι άδικα ενώ όλοι οι άλλοι θα συνεχίσουν να ζουν κανονικά σαν να μην πέρασε πότε από την ζωή τους. Ένα από τα πιο ξεχωριστά πράγματα που έχει καταφέρει η Jenny Downham να μας δώσει είναι η απεικόνιση του εσωτερικού και εξωτερικού κόσμου της Tessa. Μας τα μεταφέρει όλα τόσο ρεαλιστικά.

It was strange how words meant something when they came out of your mouth. Inside your head they were safe and silent, but once they were outside, people grabbed hold of them.

Ένα από τα αγαπημένα μου πράγματα στην ιστορία ήταν η οικογένεια της. Δεν ήταν τέλεια αλλά ξεχωριστή. Ο υπερπροστατευτικός μπαμπάς της ήταν καταπληκτικός. Ο τρόπος που έκανε τα πάντα για αυτήν ακόμα και όταν η ίδια του συμπεριφερόταν σκατά. Πάντα δίπλα της με αγάπη και αφοσίωση σπάραζε την καρδιά μου. Και ο μικρούλης Cal που από την μια λόγο το νεαρό της ηλικίας τους δεν καταλαβαίνει τι πραγματικά γίνεται και από την άλλη που την προστάτευε και αγαπούσε τόσο ήταν πραγματικά αξιολάτρευτο. Κανένας χαρακτήρας δεν είναι τέλειος όλοι μα όλοι κάνουν λάθη αλλά αυτό τους κάνεις και τόσο αληθινούς και μοναδικούς. Ενώ μέσα από αυτό μπορούμε να δούμε και το αντίκτυπο που έχει στους γύρω ανθρώπους και στην οικογένεια όταν ένα άτομο από αυτήν πάσχει από μια τόσο σοβαρή ασθένεια.

"It's all right, Tessa, you can go. We love you. You can go now."
"Why are you saying that?" "She might need permission to die, Cal."
"I don't want her to. She doesn't have my permission."

Ο Adam είναι επίσης ένας βαθιά ανθρώπινος χαρακτήρας. Το δίλημμα του αρχικά ήταν αν αξίζει πραγματικά να βγει πληγωμένος από όλο αυτό. Να ερωτευτεί ένα ετοιμοθάνατο κορίτσι - αν και η καρδιά του δεν του έδωσε τελικά και πολλές επιλογές στο θέμα. Ο Adam μένει στο πλευρό της μέχρι και την τελευταία της πνοή, δεν την αφήνει ποτέ από δίπλα του. Και όσο προχωράει η ιστορία και η Tessa γίνεται πιο ευαίσθητη είναι πραγματικά συγκινητική η σχέση και των δύο. Είναι ο άνθρωπος που θα της δώσει το πιο φωτεινό κομμάτι στις τελευταίες στιγμές της ζωής της. Θα είναι αυτός που θα της μάθει τελικά τι είναι να ζεις!

"I love you." he whispers angrily into my neck. "It hurts more than anything ever has, but I do. So don’t you dare tell me I don’t. Don’t you ever say it again!"

Τέλος η γραφή της Jenny Downham είναι απλά πανέμορφη. Τόσο ρεαλιστική και πλούσια.
Ενώ το Before I Die είναι ένα βιβλίο που θα μείνει μαζί σας για πολύ καιρό...
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews9,007 followers
January 16, 2010
Tessa was diagnosed with terminal leukemia at the age of twelve. Her friends and friends of her family sent her gifts and get well soon cards, probably expecting her to get better after a few treatments and maybe some radiation chemotherapy. Four years later, at age sixteen, Tessa knows she is going to die in just a few months. Not wanting to live the rest of her life in bed doing nothing, Tessa compiles a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The objectives on the list are racy and meant to make her feel alive; things like sex, drugs, and fame. Even though Tessa might achieve her goals, she will soon learn that maybe getting all the things she desire won't bring her happiness, and that maybe it is the unexpected joys of life that will.

Before I Die is a tear-jerker. It was somewhat like watching a reality TV show - you watch all the characters develop and get to know them even when you already know during the finale they're going to die. Not eloquently stated, but true. And that's exactly what happened. Not to put down any other parts of the book, but the ending was infinitely painful and heart-breaking, I felt like someone I really knew in real life was passing away, not just a fictional character.

There isn't much to be said (because it's that good) about Before I Die. Once starting the novel it's obvious what fate will befall Tessa. Regardless, you're immediately sucked into her sad story. Her emotions, thoughts, and actions are extremely well-described. Her family, her friend Zoey, and lover Adam are all brought to life and three-dimensional. Basically, I think Before I Die is a great example of everything a book should be.

By the way, keep a few tissues (or the whole box) with you when you reach the last few chapters. You'll need them.
Profile Image for Tina.
51 reviews30 followers
October 20, 2018
3.5 stars
Unlike most of the books, its title reveals the ending of the book. I think that what it makes this book different from others, apart from the topic. As for the topic, it reminded me John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars". I liked the latter much more. There it's much better depicted, what kind of difficulties, what kind of treatment and emotional suffering a terminally-ill person goes through. No doubt, both are not just sad, but even tragic.
A very sad story about a 16 year old Tessa, who is dying of leukemia... She's been battling it for 4 years and the treatment didn't really help. So she was told that she's dying. But she's only 16 and in spite of diagnosis wants to experience at least some of the things that are important for her in this life. So, she makes a list and tries to follow it. She is surrounded by her family (at some point her mother returns home) but actually the only person who really wholeheartedly loves her is her father. Though, sometimes not even he is fair to her. One can explain it, because he's also overloaded, realizing that he's losing his daughter, but can't do anything to save her.
Actually, it's not just a sad, but even tragic story...
Profile Image for Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker.
596 reviews378 followers
February 21, 2012
I cannot believe this was the author's debut book.

WARNING- I cried from 2% all the way to 95%. I didn't cry at the very end. How screwed up am I?

I cried not because Tessa was dying but because she was so well loved. The numerous acts of unselfish (and some selfish) raw love made my heart break apart.

I promise you the dying in this book is not the story. It's about how to finally live when you have an expiration date.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,320 reviews1,252 followers
February 20, 2016
Beautiful. I always said that there must be better books out there than The Fault in Our Stars by John Green when tackling teenage cancer in a novel. And there was. I have just read it.

Tessa is a young teenager and she's being ravaged by Leukemia, she has battled it for years of her young life and now things are not going so well. The sand in the timer is falling faster.

I've been ill for so long, puffed up and sick, with patchy skin, flaky fingernails, disappearing hair and a feeling of nausea that permeates to my bonds, it's not fair. I don't want to die like this, not before I've even loved properly. It seems so clear to me. I feel almost hopeful, which is mad. I want to live before I die. It's the only thing that makes sense.

This book doesn't skip a beat and gets straight into things, Tessa is making a list of things she wants to do before she dies, on that list are things like have sex and take drugs. Not many books tackle sex so quickly (in the first 20 pages) as this book did in the way that it did.

Tessa is very well presented as a teenager, she has her moods, she acts immature and selfish at times, her character is very real, not an ounce of fake about this girl. She is at times brutally honest with herself and others about her predicament.

Around Tessa the cast of characters include her Mother and Father who are separated but pulling together for Tessa, her young brother Cal and her best friend Zoe. Zoe is the one friend who does not treat her different because she is sick and dying, they have an intense friendship with a lot of typical teenage push and pull.

I loved the way this book was written, I felt so many emotions whilst reading it, something that The Fault in Our Stars had not done for me. I have seen what cancer does to a young person (and old) and how it alters thinking processes, bodily functions, personalities all around the sick person. This book presented all sides to it, no holding back.

There are so many beautiful moments in the book as I journeyed with Tess as she worked to get through her list of things to do (some a little crazy!), things most teens would want to experience if they were going to die by sixteen. I smiled with her when she did and I ached for her when her heart ached. I applauded her when she showed courage.

It's a profoundly beautiful novel, I won't forget this one ever, I can't believe I had never heard of it (I found a copy of this book in a local charity shop for 80p). I read it in less than two hours, just turning the pages and soaking it all in.

I can't reveal special spoilers but this book takes a twist that I just loved, it melted my heart, I felt everything with Tessa. And by golly, the ending, oh my goodness!, I choked up, I shed tears, I was so with the moment. Books hardly ever make me actually that emotional so this was special.

A book that reminded me of my own mortality but also that I am still alive, and to grab it and maybe start my list before it's too late. Cancer is a ravager of the body and soul. Tessa's journey was brilliantly represented, I truly found this to be a heart-warming, poignant, emotional and powerful book. Stunning.
Profile Image for Lauren.
539 reviews80 followers
May 4, 2016
While it started out rather slowly, about halfway through, it definitely picked up.

I feel like it could have been so much more though. It could have been something absolutely phenomenal and some parts just fell a bit short.

But I will say this, I definitely cried.
Profile Image for Alyssa Wayt.
314 reviews
January 21, 2012
I really didn't like this book. It started off okay, but it just got worse and worse.

Tessa has cancer, and is dying. She has a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The list is things like sex, drugs, say yes to everything for a whole day, get famous, nonsense stuff. Then she falls in love with the boy next door. Her list turns into things like hold my brother, kiss my love, have a cup of tea, little things like that. This book could have been really great, if it wasn't for all of the sex. This book was just FULL of it, and it was very graphic. I'm sorry, but if I was dying, I wouldn't be thinking about sex all the time. I wouldn't. But throughout the whole book, it is just about sex. Sex, sex and more sex. One part cancer, five thousand parts sex. I may be the only teenager out there who doesn't want to read about sex, but it's true. Book should have more meaning to them, especially when it is about a girl who is dying. I mean, if I wanted to read a book about sex, I would get one of those adult novels, not a bucketlist book. I do like how her list changes to everyday things, but still I feel like it was a waste of a read, and I am forever stuck with the mental images of horrible those sex scenes. Yugh.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
June 30, 2012
I read about half of Before I Die before I realized that I just couldn't be bothered anymore. I picked up Before I Die with huge hopes and expectations. I had just finished reading Jenny Downham's You Against Me which was utterly brilliant but Before I Die simply didn't do it for me.

Sixteen-year-old Tessa doesn't have a very long time left to live. Suffering from leukemia, Tessa decides to make a list of things she wants to do before she dies. On this list is everything from sex, to drugs, to driving, and even breaking the law. Then, there's Adam, her mysterious neighbor. Throughout Tessa's ordeal, she must learn to accept her situation, herself, and her life for what it is.

I'm going to start by saying some of the positive aspects of this novel. Tessa's reactions to her cancer and her behavior seemed very realistic and Downham's portrayal of her relationship with her family was extremely well written and believable. However, I simply could not bring myself to care for Tessa. Furthermore, I was thoroughly confused as to why Adam was even remotely interested in her. Tessa's friendship with Zoey seemed fake and fell flat. All in all, I didn't enjoy reading this book even a quarter as much as I loved Downham's You Against Me. That being said, Before I Die wasn't necessarily a bad book and the second half may be better than the first half, but I won't be wasting my time reading it.

(Note: If this is your first cancer book then it may be a very good read. I constantly kept comparing Before I Die to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and the two stories simply could not be compared as The Fault in Our Stars affected me on a completely new and profound level that Before I Die could not do. As far as debut novels go however, this was definitely an excellent attempt by Downham.)
Profile Image for Hira.
153 reviews398 followers
October 21, 2012
Books where people die are very hard for me to read about. But those are also the ones that touch me the most.

Tessa has cancer. She has been fighting cancer for the past 4 years, and now only has months to live. She wants to make the most of the time she has, and so she makes a "Before I Die" list, a list of all the things she wants to do before she dies.

What would you do? I for one, would probably want to spend all my time with loved ones, although I don’t think you can assume what a person would want in such a time unless it’s actually happening (God forbid).

Tessa doesn’t play a weepy, whiny character who thinks the world should revolve around her since she’s about to die. In fact, she’s kind of a bitch. She’s blunt, honest, knows what she wants and does anything possible to get it, because, well, life is short. First up is sex, then drugs, shoplifting, fame, love, etc.

So you all know what will happen in the end. She’ll die. The end, right? What you don’t know is that it’ll break your heart along the way. There are quite a few heartbreaking quotes, but this one touched me the most:

Tessa’s words to her dad: ‘No, then you’ll die. Before me. The way it’s supposed to be.’

Whenever I hear of a child dying anywhere in the world, it always hurts. It’s so sad to think of someone dying before they get to see how wonderful life could be, had they had the time to enjoy it. Tessa tries her best to enjoy whatever time is left. But there’s only so much you can do. She can’t finish school, she can never go to university, so many things that normal teenagers look forward to. She’s just not given a chance. That’s the worst part. When reading, and growing to know Tessa better and liking her, you realize that there’s nothing you can do for her. You’re not going to get a happy ending.

...and live.
Profile Image for Scot Nourok.
17 reviews3 followers
October 28, 2007
If you need a reminder of all that's important in this world, then you should read this novel. Even if you don't think so. The title says it all. Narrated by a Tessa, a girl who is dying of cancer, Before I Die gives a realistic portrait of what she wants to accomplish in the little time left to her.

Now please don't think I'm sexist when I say this, but 99% of the women I know make lists. It's something I admire about them. Lists—it's a girl thing.

Tessa, makes lists. Lists of things she wants to accomplish in the short time she has to live. All I can say is don't get in the way of a girl with a list.

There are books that help you think about life in a different way. Before I Die did that for me.
Profile Image for The Book Whisperer (aka Boof).
343 reviews235 followers
August 16, 2008
I have just finnished this book and I write this review through tears. In the day it took me to read I have laughed, cried, felt uplifted and humbled.

This is the story of 16 year old Tessa who is dying of terminal cancer. In her last months she makes a list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies (this includes falling in love and saying yes to everything for one whole day). Tessa goes through a range of emotions including anger (why her?) but the overriding feeling I got from her was an amazing spirit. She notices things that you and I forget to notice - the colour of leaves, the sound of a thunder storm, sunshine reflecting in a tea cup. These are the things that make her feel alive and she embraces them in a way that most of us who think we have years left infront of us don't.

This is a beautifully written and important book. It reminds us to live.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
January 21, 2018
Before I Die was so freaking good!

Even though you know beforehand that the MC is going to die, you still wont be prepared for it. Nope, you wont. It's kind of like Me Before You or A Walk to Remeber because you will still end up shedding some tears after finishing the book. Maybe even before you do. Just know, that this book WILL MAKE YOU CRY.

This is my first book by Jenny Downham and I'm officially hooked. It was very hard to put this book down and go on with my real life. If I could stay in my reading zone forever and ever I would never be bored or sad.

The thing I loved most about this book, or I guess while reading it, was because it made me think of other books/movies/characters. I don't really know how to explain it but I just like when authors or books do that. AS long as I'm always remembering books I like/loved I'm good.

I don't want to spoil to much other than the fact that Tessa, who is the MC dies, BUT then again you already know that before you read it.

I just want to say that this book broke my heart and everything else. It was so freaking good. I loved every second of it. I can also see myself rereading it over and over again.
Profile Image for Nathaly Alvarez Jimenez.
317 reviews57 followers
September 12, 2016

Cuando escogí este libro antes de irme de viaje pensé que esto sería otra historia sentimental con una chica que esta muriendo que tiene una lista de cosas por hacer antes de morir y en eso se enamora y ve una hermosa puesta de sol justo antes de morirse. Un libro sobre no tener miedo, nunca cuestionar o estar enojado con la vida o como te ha tratado.

Lo que encontré fue un personaje fuerte, una chica que a veces es atrevida, que de verdad quiere vivir la vida plenamente, mientras que todavía la tiene. Tessa quiere experimentar cosas buenas como: Enamorarse de un chico que realmente quiere. Y cosas malas como: Drogas y tener relaciones sexuales con un extraño azar. Ella está enojada por todo lo que tiene que pasar.

Realmente va a suceder. Realmente no volveré a la escuela nunca. Nunca voy a ser famosa o algo que valga la pena dejar atrás. Nunca voy a ir a la universidad o tendré un trabajo. No voy a ver a mi hermano crecer. No voy a viajar, no voy a ganar dinero, no conduciré nunca, nunca me enamoraré o saldré de casa o tendré mi propia casa.

Es realmente cierto.

Y lo que simplemente le dio el toque magnífico al libro fue la forma en que Tessa se enfrenta a su muerte, algo que hace al libro más real. Ella tiene miedo que no haya nada después de la muerte, ella tiene miedo de ser olvidada y enterrada. Está molesta porque ella tiene que morir mientras sus amigos y familiares pueden seguir con sus vidas y aún así se las arregla para ser feliz con el tiempo que tiene.

El único personaje que realmente me gustaba era Adam. No sé por qué se enamoró de Tessa, porque ella ni siquiera se lo merecía. Hubo algunas escenas con él estando ahí para ella y dándole todo su cariño, que me hicieron quererlo más. Me sentí triste por él, realmente, porque Tessa iba a morir y ese era el final para ella, pero él se acordará de ella toda su vida. Y bueno, el papá de Tessa quién me gusto solo un poco.

Cosas que odio de este libro: Zoey, "amiga" de Tessa, mejor conocida como la tonta que la ayudó con su lista: Personalmente la odio por no estar para Tessa cuando la necesitaba y por recordarle cada vez que se veían que ella iba a morir y eso. Odiaba a su hermano pequeño por decirle que él no podía esperar hasta que ella se haya ido. Odiaba a su madre, quien parecía no preocuparse por ella en absoluto. Esta bien, hay un montón cosas que no me gustaron en este libro.

Quitándole toda la cosa de los personajes secundarios, este es un libro que te hace pensar y apreciar la vida.

Profile Image for Kody Keplinger.
Author 18 books6,771 followers
February 20, 2010
I'd heard a little about this book when I started reading it. Not much, but mostly good things. But when I started it, I had no clue what I was in for.

The title makes it clear that the book is about death. Tessa, at sixteen, is about to die. But the book is about so much more than that. It's really about living. Tessa makes a list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies. Each one leads to different, varying consiquences, but they all help her live, just a little.

This book is beautiful and gut wrenching. The characters are real and painfully flawed. There are moments when Tessa is selfish and unlikeable, but others when all you want to do is hold her and make her safe. The book deals with a lot of mature subject matter - sex, drugs, teen pregancy - but in a realistic and delicate way.

Be prepared for a good cry. But it's so worth it.
Profile Image for altough2008.
37 reviews32 followers
April 3, 2016
So what was good about Before I Die ? I can answer in one word: Nothing.

Yes, Yes, I know many people have been praising this book to death, and believe me; no one is more disappointed than I am.

I was very excited for this book. I thought it was gonna be heartbreaking and thought-provoking. I thought it would make me appreciate life more. Boy was I wrong!

As a start, none of the characters appealed to me. The main character Tessa annoyed the hell out of me! I truly tried to sympathize with her, but throughout the story, there was nothing that made me feel sorry for her. In fact, I felt sorry more for the other characters who had to deal with her stupidity and insanity. Her list was stupid. I mean, breaking the law? doing drugs? I have no problem with people doing lists of things they want to do, but it has to make some significance to their character. It was never explained why she wanted do the things on her list.

Tessa's list, or at least half of it is about doing reckless and irresponsible things. To me, Tessa seemed to think that living your life is about being wild. She continues to prove that to me until the very end. Don't get me wrong. Everybody should have fun from time to time, but you also need to be responsible if you wanna get through life. I know that Tessa doesn't have that much time left, but when you're dying, you should live your life to its fullest, not doing things that could lead to your destruction. Again, I would've sympathize with Tessa if her actions were explained, but they never were. Tessa thought she could do whatever she wants and everybody would forgive her because she was dying. Guess what? Life doesn't work that way. Believe me, I wasn't expecting Tessa to be a likable or an inspiring character. But just because a character isn't likable doesn't mean they can't be well-developed and interesting. Tessa was the exact opposite.

However, Tessa wasn't the worst character. Oh no. The worst character was Zoey, the so called "best friend". She is easily is one of the most frustrating, weakly developed, disagreeable character I had the displeasure of reading.I never understood how these two could be friends. Tessa seemed very pathetic to me whenever she misses hanging out with Zoey who is constantly being mean to her. Zoey seemed forced to hang out with Tessa. Why? It was never explained. You don't get enough background on the character of Zoey. I could rant on and on why I hate this character, but then this review would've been much longer.

I don't have much to say about the other characters. In general, they all seem pathetic to me. None of them is well developed due to the fact they're not given much to do, in my opinion. ALL the characters in this book didn't feel real.

And about the love story, it happened out of nowhere! The love interest Adam has no personality. Most of the conversations between Tessa and Adam revolves around "making love" it got so annoying. I would never ever understand how or why Adam fell in love with her. I just didn't buy the "love" that was between these two. "They fell in love. How? It just happened"? As far as I know, love doesn't work that way. I love well-developed romances, but this one wasn't a love story. It was a story of lust.

The story itself was all over the place. The chapters feel like episodes with each one tells different incident revolves around Tessa's stupid list. We follow Tessa as she tries to complete the things she wants to do before she dies, but the list is so uninteresting and idiotic that you just don't care. I'm not saying she should try doing extraordinary things like saving the world or anything, but doing drugs? seriously!? Tessa was the driving force of the plot, so that would explain why I didn't like the plot.

I wasn't asking for an inspiring story or a likable main character when I was reading Before I Die . Like many people, I thought this book would be depressing. However, it didn't make me depressed at all. It made me angry. I'm sorry I'm being too harsh, but this is just my opinion. In the end, I wouldn't say don't read this book. Many people love it, so maybe there is something that I failed to see.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,438 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.