Thursday, 26 June 2008

Jenny Downham – “Before I Die”

This is a precis of the Before I Die taken from the Internet - Tessa has just a few months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, 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, her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa's time finally runs out. "Before I Die" is a brilliantly-crafted novel, heartbreaking yet astonishingly life-affirming. It will take you to the very edge.

If you don’t cry at the end of this book you aren’t human, and yet not only do I recommend reading it for the good of your soul but it’s also a darned good read. Described as being for young adults I would see it as being appropriate for anyone from young teen to old, old cynic. How anyone can write so believably how a dying sixteen year old may feel is beyond my comprehension. It is also a remarkably brave thing for a mother to do. This is writing at its very best.

was an actress for many years before concentrating on her writing full-time. She lives in London with her two sons. For an interview with Jenny Downham see


  1. I really would like to read the rest of this book. I read the first 15 pages at a bookstore without my mom knowing. She was in the nail salon and she let me my sister and brother go look at the bookstore. I read some of it and I can't finish the rest because I would have to buy the book and I really want to read it and my mom usually doesn't like me reading books with sex in it. ;C

  2. I can appreciate why Mums sometimes restrict their children's reading and viewing. The only consolation is that a book as good as this is not going to disappear and you can look forward to the time when you can choose what you read. It is a book worth waiting for.


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