Before I Die - Jenny Downham

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 runs out.


I listened to this book on audiobook several years ago and remembered it as being very touching and thoughtful. Rereading it did not disappoint.


I adore Tessa. I adore her so much. Her ferocity is absolutely fantastic. She's going to die and she knows it, so why should she waste her time on things like laws or social conventions?


The first thing on her list is sex, and that scene was so poignant. The emotions Tessa has and the way she feels is realistic and so accurate of first time sex that I think a lot of people could find that very touching. Another scene that I adored was the scene in which she does drugs, which I found amusingly accurate.


Cal, Tessa's little brother, is my favourite character. He's hilarious, but sweet at the same time and I just wanted to pick him up and give him a hug. He's aware that Tessa's dying, but also that she gets all the attention, which isn't at all fair.


I loved the manner in which the list was revealed--instead of getting it all up front, we had to wait a bit and see them happen. I also loved that the ending came when it did and not when we wanted it to, making it realistic for me.


Really, this is about the life of a teenage girl, not about death. Death just forces her to live a little faster.


This is a pretty easy read, but may make you cry. I love the poignancy of this book and am glad I reread it.