Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Summary: 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.

(Note: This review may be all over the place because it's getting late and I'm tired, but I just finished this book five minutes ago and wanted to review it while it was still fresh in my mind.)

Review: This book is beautiful. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for forever, probably over a year now. I don't know why I hadn't picked it up sooner. Right off the bat, from both the book's title and summary, you know how it's going to end, but that certainly doesn't make it any less painful to read, especially when the writing is so, so good. Downham often used metaphors to describe what Tessa was going though, and I found them to be very fitting and accurate. Tessa's wishes and thoughts throughout the entire novel were realistic; not once did an item on her list seem to be too over the top. Her character was relatable, her father broke my heart, and her brother made me chuckle (and tear up) a few times. Her boyfriend was also really admirable. You can tell that these two loved each other, and their story is extremely bittersweet.

I give this book 4/5 stars because while I really don't have anything negative to say about it, it feels like something is missing or not quite right, but I can't put my finger on it. (By the way, Downham is a British author, so some of the British slang the characters used confused me. It's certainly not her fault, though, and I figured it out/got used to it soon enough.) This novel is definitely worth reading; it'll break your heart, and teach you a thing or two about life in the process.

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