Jun 1, 2013

Before I Die

Before I Die is a book I read years ago and I enjoyed it but I don't think I fully understood how beautiful this book was. Now after reading it again I finally see just how beautiful this book is. I loved and could appreciate it a lot more this second time around than I did when I first read it.

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.

Tessa Scott has cancer. She isn't going to be living for very much longer. Deciding that she isn't going to just sit on the couch and wait to die she writes up a list of ten things she plans to do before she dies.

There is no breathing while reading this book. You don't come up for air. The moment you dive into the painfully true story that is Tessa's life you're instantly captivated. I really really love Tessa's narration. I loved her voice plan and simple. I loved how raw she was with everything. She was dying and she was terrified at times but she didn't let it hold her back. It's really hard not to love Tessa and her voice.

Adam is one of those characters who I really liked and every time he was around it made me want to reader faster and faster. He's a shy guy with a past of his own and I really loved how his and Tessa's relationship developed. He was brave to do what he did to allow himself to fall for a girl who was dying. But I did feel like Adam was a bit of a distant character. I would have loved to learn a bit more about him. Even though I did feel we could have learned more about him I did really love this character.

I had a few issues with Tessa's best friend Zoey. I often felt like she was a real bitch. I don't know maybe that's a bit harsh but Zoey felt like a toxic friend for the longest time to me. But my feelings did change for her towards the ending and I actually started to like her a bit despite her bitchy self in the beginning. I liked how she stuck with Tessa through the tough stuff. She ended up being a good friend.

Of all the annoying little brothers Cal is one of the best. There was something about this twit that I adored. He wasn't very open about his love for his big sister but you knew that despite some of the things he said he didn't mean them. Oh my gosh! He broke my heart towards the end of the book with that one line he whispers into Tessa's ear. That one line will always stick with me like so many other things in this book.

"Moments. All gathering towards this one."

There is something about this book that is so different from any other book I've read dealing with cancer. There's something really raw and true about this book. Something about this one just sticks with you. Jenny Downham has a way with words and there are so many things that were written in this book that tug at my heart and I just keep reading them over and over in my head. They were just such beautiful lines and they have stuck with me.

Me, being someone who has forever been obsessed with London loved that all the characters in this book were English. I love learning new British slang and whenever it was thrown around in this book it just made me smile. And yes, I will admit in my head and even sometimes when I read it out loud it was all in a British Accent. I couldn't help it! But in all honesty I really enjoyed this about this book. I love that the characters would say things like "I'm so bloody bored!" Or be all "You're such a wanker." British slang is the best. That's all I'm gonna say.

 “I want you to be with me in the dark. To hold me. To keep loving me. To help me when I get scared. To come right to the edge and see what's there.”

Before I Die is a beautifully written novel that anyone will love. It's one of those books that sticks with you years and years after reading it. I'm giving Before I Die 5 out of 5 birds. Even though this is a young adult book and I did read it when I was probably thirteen I felt I appreciated it more now that I'm older. This face makes me think that young or old will adore this book. It honestly is one of those books that everyone will appreciate. Everyone will take something from it that will stick with them forever. Such, a beautiful beautiful book.


  1. It's funny how you can go back and re-read a book and get a different message. Before I Die sounds like a very touching story. Beautiful review, Bailey.

  2. "There is no breathing while reading this book. You don't come up for air. The moment you dive into the painfully true story that is Tessa's life you're instantly captivated."

    OH MY. That was a perfect quote. It generally sums up my feelings when I read this book. I need to reread it soon!