Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Here is another book that I read even though I knew it would make me cry. It is the story of Tessa, who is sixteen years old and dying. She has stopped going to school because of how sick she is, and now only wants to live out her remaining time like any teen would, on her terms. So she has made a list of things that she wants to do before she dies. It is not a list of lofty goals, but a list that many teenagers would make, if they were honest with themselves. She wants to have sex, do drugs, do something illegal. And as she works her way down the list, it changes, and other wants are fulfilled, while she realizes that some of the things she thought she wanted were meaningless.
One of the most beautiful things about this book are the characters. Tessa is so well written - she is just as pissed off as any teenager who is not able to do what they want. She is stubborn, and she makes you incredibly angry with some of her stupid choices. Her friends Zoey and Adam are also great - you want to hate Zoey and love Adam, but in truth, the characters are much more complex than that, and Tessa seems to be more aware of this than the reader. The book is sad, of course, as it is about death, ultimately. But it is also beautiful, as life (and death) can have so much beauty. The book itself seems to grow and mature as you read it, becoming fully realized only in its end.

**This review also posted at hip librarians book blog**

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