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Before I Die | Jenny Downham | Review

Before I Die by Jenny Downham book review on Blogger's Bookshelf

Before I Die, tells the story of a sixteen year old girl called Tessa, who has leukemia. From the start of the book, we know that the condition is terminal as she has refused to take chemotherapy treatment for her cancer. Tessa has a list of things she wants to do before she dies. These tasks aren’t like things you’d find in your typical bucket list. Among the list is having sex, taking drugs and breaking the law. Throughout the book she meets Adam, who is her next door neighbour and lives with his mum. With the help of Adam and her best friend, Zoey, she sets out to achieve these tasks.

Guys, this book is amazing. The story is well thought through and I really couldn’t put it down at some parts. While it is a cancer story, it is completely different to The Fault in Our Stars. I was amazed at how the author went into excellent detail of all the medical names and procedures which Tessa needed during times when she blacked out or was at the hospital. It showed that a lot of research was done and a lot of effort was made into the book so I really liked that.

Jenny definitely did a great job in creating Tessa. She is very controversial and most of the time, I had no idea what was going to come out of her mouth or what she was going to do next. However, her unexpectedness is what made her an amazing character because it made me want to read more.  It’s obvious to see that she’s been through a lot of appointments and a lot of treatment before the book even starts because her attitude is very sour and depressed about her life and she sometimes thinks about things she won’t be able to do before she dies. Sometimes, I didn’t find her at all likeable because her family and friends were trying to look after her and she would shove them away and tell them to leave her alone.

As far as the other characters go, I found them all really likable and her little brother, Cal, is so cute. Sometimes I just wanted to give him a big hug because he was going through a lot, and there were certain words and phrases he said that made me go a bit misty-eyed. Adam is amazing through this book and there is this one scene (no spoilers) where he does something so amazing it just made me want to give him the highest of the fives.

I didn’t have much of a wait to see it happen as this book was made into a movie. It’s called Now is Good. There were tiny bits that weren’t there, and they actually swapped different bits of the book, but it didn’t matter.  The movie is just as amazing as the book, but of course the book is better. So follow the wise words of Hank Green and “Read it First!”

I am rating this book a massive five stars because it was one of the best books that I have read this year and I would read it again. She's written another book called You Against Me, which is also fantastic. I would definitely recommend Before I Die to people who are over fifteen years of age and to people who like book genres such as Young Adult and Chick Lit. If you also want a quick-read, then this is your book. I am a bit of a slow reader and I read the full 336 pages in four days.

 A word of advice though: Have tissues at the ready, it is such a tear jerker.

This review was written by Lucy, get to know her here.
Photo from Goodreads.


  1. This sounds right up my street :) x

  2. This is another book on my 'To Read' list, heard nothing but good about it so far. And yes, love me a tearjerker! xoxo

  3. aww lovely review, eventhough I myself wasn't to fond of the book..might have to give it another try one day!

  4. I haven't seen the film adaptation of this but the premise reminds me a lot of the film Restless. I'd recommend it if you haven't seen it already :) x

  5. I've heard a lot of good things about this book, it's not the genre I usually go for but it sounds interesting enough! Thanks for the review Lucy! :)

  6. Another on my to-read list, excited to read this one and I may just have to check out the film! xx


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