I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing this book is. It's absolutely wonderful, simply heartbreaking, and just brilliant. Such a beautiful story!
Tessa is a character I am unbelievably in awe for. How someone so young is able to cope so well with being told they only have so long left to live is just beyond me. She's strong, she's brave, and she's just incredible. And she has a plan. A plan to live before she dies. She makes a mist of things she wants to do before she no longer can, and it makes me want to list.
The first few things on her list I weren't the biggest fan of. Either because they're things I disagree with or Tessa doesn't actually want to do, but feels like she should just so she can say she has. Where was the sky diving? Where was the swimming with dolphins? Drugs, casual sex and breaking the law... not really the first things I would have thought of. But she does them, and her story as she goes along is just so sad.
A lot of the things she wants to she does with her best friend Zoey. I really didn't like her. She seemed unsupportive, a bad influence, and quite selfish. She got a little better towards the end, but she was always criticising Tessa and what/how she did things. I really wanted Tessa to just give her the elbow and try doing things on her own. I think she may have enjoyed things a little more if she did.
I cannot tell you how awful it was to read about Tessa's family trying to deal with Tessa's imminent death. Her Dad was in denial, yet wanted Tessa to be careful. Her younger brother was a typical younger brother, but also really scared and upset. Her Mum didn't know what to do with herself. No-one really coped too well. It was difficult to read the arguments between Tessa and her Dad, because you cn understand Tessa wanting to get out there and live, but you can also understand her Dad not wanting her to do anything that will bring her death date closer. And there really wasn't anything her Dad could do, and he knew it. So, so sad.
Adam, the love interest of the story, is just amazing. He is just so sweet, and he does all these little things to try and help Tessa tick items off her list. He's such a sweetheart, and he tries so hard. But I kind of almost didn't want Tessa to end up with someone. It just didn't seem fair; you know how this story is going to end, and sure, Tessa is allowed some happiness, but it just felt a little selfish of her, he would be left behind. I was almost crying when they got it together. And this quote really got me:
'I know I look like a pile of bones covered in cling film. I see the shock of it in Adam's eyes.I cried like a baby over the last few chapters. So much I could hardly see what I was reading. It was just excruciating, and the way Downham wrote those chapters was just so well done. In the end, it felt like Tessa was someone I knew, and I mourned when she died. At some points, I was so wrapped up in the story, it felt like I was the one who was dying, and wanted less to complete my own bucket list, the things that I had thought of that I wanted to do, but to relish every small thing. I received a text from a mate while I was reading saying he was just saying on the sofa, and I just so wanted to do the same myself, like I hadn't done it in years. Just something small that would be so good. That was pretty much what Tessa was doing. It made me so happy to be alive, and want to notice things more, take less for granted.
"Not quite how you remembered me, eh?"
He leans down and kisses me on the cheek. "You're gorgeous."
Before I Die may just be the most amazing book I've ever read. Simply brilliant. Cannot wait to read more by Downham.
Published: 5th July 2007
Publisher: David Fickling Books
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