Apr 152014
Review: Before I DieBefore I Die by Jenny Downham
Published by David Fickling Books on Sept 25, 2008
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Format: eBook from Gift
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and 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, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

I wanted to like this story. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, but I just didn’t care for it. Tessa is just not a likable character. I understand that Tessa’s situation is heartbreaking and her anger is a very valid response, but I just couldn’t like her.

Tessa is selfish, obnoxious, and mean to everyone she meets, including her family and friends. She has lost herself in her cancer and treats everyone around her like garbage. Her list of things to do before she dies isn’t very mature, or respectable: sex, drugs, illegal activity. Nothing on her list is worth spending her last days on.

The only characters I felt sorry for were Tessa’s father and brother. Tessa’s father has given up his life and spends all his time taking care of Tessa, which still trying to give her brother as much of a normal life as possible. He has a seemingly endless supply of patience for Tessa’s attitude and unthinking behaviour, much more than I would have.

Overall, I was severely disappointed in my reaction to the characters, and the story in general. I had higher hopes, but was ultimately unaffected.

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