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Before I Die

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  37,515 ratings  ·  3,357 reviews
Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, and 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 r ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2007 by David Fickling Books
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Brenda Gough daydreamer:
It won't let me comment on our exchange, so I'll try to do so under the original question...
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No, not at all. Again, it has to do with relating to the characters. When reading a romance novel, I don't like the male characters to have long hair. Just a personal preference. I don't have a problem with men with long hair; I just don't want the male love interest to have long hair. Some people may feel the same about more sensitive characteristics, like race, gender, or sexual orientation. My personal feeling, choosing a romance novel based on character traits is similar to choosing an actual love interest - just because someone is not attracted to a particular race, doesn't make them racist anymore than choosing a love interest based on hair color or length makes them a bad person. This is just my opinion on romance novels; my answer would be different if we were talking about a different genre of books. :)(less)
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May 23, 2010 Tatiana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of books with sad endings - "If I Stay," "Before I Fall," "Living Dead Girl"
Recommended to Tatiana by: ala
This book about broke my heart. It's not as if I didn't know how it would end - the title says it all, but I didn't expect to be touched by the story to such a degree.

The premise of Before I Die is quite simple - Tessa is 16 and dying of leukemia. She knows that she has only a few months to live and struggles to come to terms with her fate. Trying to make the best of the time she has left, Tessa comes up with a list of things she would like to experience before she dies. Some items on the list a
This review can be found at

I don't really know what to say about this book. I didn't like it that much, but I didn't hate it either..

The bad:

For the most part of the story I didn't really care about Tessa, about her illness and her strange wishes (as I never got attached to her). I understand the desire to have a boyfriend, to be kissed and have sex, probably at her age this would be an important part of her life, but the other 'wishes' were kind of stupid and not the o
Lacey Louwagie
Oct 12, 2007 Lacey Louwagie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who need to stop thinking about death as romantic
Shelves: youngadult
I started this book wondering, "Why am I reading this?" and I ended it wondering, "Why did I read this?" But my two reasons for thinking these things were very different.

In the beginning, I felt like this book would be a repetition of "Skinny," a massive disappointment in which the author was enamored with the idea of a sick, frail, floundering heroine. The heroine in this book started out looking more or less the same: "I'm sick, I'm gonna die, the world sucks, so leave me alone."

Tessa begins
Mar 30, 2011 Lora rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for a heartbreaking, beautifully written story
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Tessa's been battling leukemia since the age of twelve. But now, when Tessa is sixteen, the doctors have told her that further treatment is futile and that there isn't much more they can do.
Realizing that she'll not be able to do all of the things that normal girls get to, she makes a list of ten things she wants to do before she dies. This list includes everything from sex to driving her father's car without a licence. And even as the novel rushes toward its inevitably s
Apr 13, 2011 Flannery rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Flannery by: Lora
Tessa has been treated for leukemia for the past four years. Now, since her treatment options have been exhausted, she is spending her last few months completing a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The list includes some predictable items (breaking a few laws, driving, having sex) and a few curveballs (experiencing love, getting her parents back together) but most of the book is dedicated to Tessa’s experiences as she attempts to finish her list and come to terms with her death.

We know three pages into “Before I Die” that sixteen-year-old Tessa won’t survive her leukemia--and that there’s plenty she still wants from life. So she makes a list and vows to do everything on it before she dies.

Like most teenagers, Tessa is at odds with her parents and angsty about how life’s shortchanged her. At first her ranting and left-field demands seem too adolescent. Isn’t the looming presence of death supposed to mature her beyond her years?

But that’s precisely the kind of “dying-you
This one snuck up on me. I thought that I was reading just a sweet inspirational tale about a dying girl, and the next thing I know I'm sobbing in a Chinese restaurant on 8th Avenue.
The review that inspired me to pick this one up, said that the only thing wrong with this book was that the publisher decided to market it as "young-adult", so it may never get the readership it deserves.
It was reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks', A Walk to Remember, but with much more of an edge. The girl in this novel
I feel like a jerk for not giving this story more stars. I mean, it's a book about a sixteen year old girl trying to live life to the fullest before dying of cancer. I keep thinking only a heartless baby-eating monster would give this book less then four stars.

Well, I suppose I am that monster, minus the whole baby-eating thing.

It's not like the premise failed to pull at my heartstrings--as I read this book I genuinely felt for the girl. And it's not like the author went out of her way to manip
This is a morbid little story. Beautiful, but morbid. I can't help thinking that the author demands instant literary kudos simply by dealing with the uncomfortable subject of teenage death. Unfortunately, I don't think the novel quite deserves that kudos. It provides no great profundity and, though poignant, I can't help but think it compares poorly to the 2003 movie, My Life Without Me.

For a start, the central character, Tessa is hard to like. There's a prickly sullenness about her that is part
Aly (Fantasy4eva)

“I love you. I love you. I send this message through my fingers and into his, up his arm and into his heart. Hear me. I love you. And I'm sorry to leave you.”

Rated: 4.5

first read in August 11th 2009 (rated four stars)

wow. such a long time ago.

How did I not see the gorgeousness that is this book the first time around?
“I want to die in my own way. It's my illness, my death, my choice. This is what saying yes means.”

“when I was four I almost fell down the shaft of a tin mine and w
I read about half of Before I Die before I realized that I just couldn't be bothered anymore. I picked up Before I Die with huge hopes and expectations. I had just finished reading Jenny Downham's You Against Me which was utterly brilliant but Before I Die simply didn't do it for me.

Sixteen-year-old Tessa doesn't have a very long time left to live. Suffering from leukemia, Tessa decides to make a list of things she wants to do before she dies. On this list is everything from sex, to drugs, to d
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
I cannot believe this was the author's debut book.

WARNING- I cried from 2% all the way to 95%. I didn't cry at the very end. How screwed up am I?

I cried not because Tessa was dying but because she was so well loved. The numerous acts of unselfish (and some selfish) raw love made my heart break apart.

I promise you the dying in this book is not the story. It's about how to finally live when you have an expiration date.
Oct 28, 2007 Mr.Nourok rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: 2011-2012
If you need a reminder of all that's important in this world, then you should read this novel. Even if you don't think so. The title says it all. Narrated by a Tessa, a girl who is dying of cancer, Before I Die gives a realistic portrait of what she wants to accomplish in the little time left to her.

Now please don't think I'm sexist when I say this, but 99% of the women I know make lists. It's something I admire about them. Lists—it's a girl thing.

Tessa, makes lists. Lists of things she wants to
You know it's sad when I can't muster up any sympathy for a dying 16 year old girl.
Books where people die are very hard for me to read about. But those are also the ones that touch me the most.

Tessa has cancer. She has been fighting cancer for the past 4 years, and now only has months to live. She wants to make the most of the time she has, and so she makes a "Before I Die" list, a list of all the things she wants to do before she dies.

What would you do? I for one, would probably want to spend all my time with loved ones, although I don’t think you can assume what a person w
I have just finnished this book and I write this review through tears. In the day it took me to read I have laughed, cried, felt uplifted and humbled.

This is the story of 16 year old Tessa who is dying of terminal cancer. In her last months she makes a list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies (this includes falling in love and saying yes to everything for one whole day). Tessa goes through a range of emotions including anger (why her?) but the overriding feeling I got from her was an a

Cuando escogí este libro antes de irme de viaje pensé que esto sería otra historia sentimental con una chica que esta muriendo que tiene una lista de cosas por hacer antes de morir y en eso se enamora y ve una hermosa puesta de sol justo antes de morirse. Un libro sobre no tener miedo, nunca cuestionar o estar enojado con la vida o como te ha tratado.

Lo que encontré fue un personaje fuerte, una chica que a veces es atrevida que de verdad quiere vivir la vida plenamente, mientras que todavía la
I read this in a day - I couldn't put it down. The story is told from the viewpoint of a 16 year old girl, Tessa, who has terminal leukemia. She has months to live and has made a list of things she wants to do before she dies.

The book is beautifully written, and brings about a number of emotions. The characters are well established (Tessa's father particularly) and this makes the story realistic and believable. It's interesting to learn about the relationships between the characters - you'd imag
Tessa was diagnosed with terminal leukemia at the age of twelve. Her friends and friends of her family sent her gifts and get well soon cards, probably expecting her to get better after a few treatments and maybe some radiation chemotherapy. Four years later, at age sixteen, Tessa knows she is going to die in just a few months. Not wanting to live the rest of her life in bed doing nothing, Tessa compiles a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The objectives on the list are racy and me ...more
Beautiful. I always said that there must be better books out there than The Fault in Our Stars by John Green when tackling teenage cancer in a novel. And there was. I have just read it.

Tessa is a young teenager and she's being ravaged by Leukemia, she has battled it for years of her young life and now things are not going so well. The sand in the timer is falling faster.

I've been ill for so long, puffed up and sick, with patchy skin, flaky fingernails, disappearing hair and a feeling of nausea
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for

I devoured this book in two days. It called to me. Beckoned me across the room and begged me to pick it up and finish what I'd started. If I hadn't needed to eat and sleep, I'd have finished it in mere hours. It was that vital to keep going.

Tessa Scott keeps going, too. She keeps writing on the wall and adding to the list of things she wants to do before she dies. Tess's life is being driven from her by leukemia before she herself can even drive a
Kody Keplinger
I'd heard a little about this book when I started reading it. Not much, but mostly good things. But when I started it, I had no clue what I was in for.

The title makes it clear that the book is about death. Tessa, at sixteen, is about to die. But the book is about so much more than that. It's really about living. Tessa makes a list of 10 things she wants to do before she dies. Each one leads to different, varying consiquences, but they all help her live, just a little.

This book is beautiful and g

I'm an emotional wreck. Because of you.

Hope you're okay. Whenever you're.

And don't worry. They won't forget.

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H.I. Al-Muhairi
This is just so horrible!

As in painful. I think I'm turning into a masochist. I can't keep away from heart-breaking books.

It's hard to read something about death, so damned hard. It made me think: if I was Tessa, how would have I felt?

Imagine this: four years of fight against a disease, with a probability that you're going to die at the end.

You're too young, only sixteen, but your life is slipping away from your fingertips. You're dying. Your dreams, your wishes are all worthless. You'll never
I didn't think this book would be as hard to read as it was. But it was a good type of hard, like reading "The Book Theif." To read about the last year of this young girl's life was emotional - worth the ride. I especially loved the kindness of Adam.
P.S. Be careful where you read this book, you are going to cry!!
Alyssa Wayt
I really didn't like this book. It started off okay, but it just got worse and worse.

Tessa has cancer, and is dying. She has a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The list is things like sex, drugs, say yes to everything for a whole day, get famous, nonsense stuff. Then she falls in love with the boy next door. Her list turns into things like hold my brother, kiss my love, have a cup of tea, little things like that. This book could have been really great, if it wasn't for all of the
You know about bucket lists, right? They are lists of the things you want to do before you die, and in popular fiction / movies they often seem to include stuff like seeing the Taj Mahal, visiting the Grand Canyon or skydiving.

But what if you are a sixteen-year-old girl with leukemia, and you find out you only have a few months to live? What would your bucket list look like then?

Tessa tells the story in first person, and her list includes have sex, try drugs, and go shoplifting with her best fri
I knew by reading the title that, obviously, someone was going to die. I guess I thought it would have been like all the other books where the author magically flicks their wrist and it's over.

This is a story about a life. A beautiful life that has been taken by leukemia. Jenny Downham does a fabulous job taking us through Tessa's 'list' of things she wants to do before she dies. Throughout the book more things get added to the original list, some things get changed or removed.

Tessa's story wa
All of my reviews are spoiler free (unless stated otherwise) so you can go ahead and read my review! Review format taken from Jillian over at Bookish and Nerdy!

The characters in this book are all so real. That’s the best way to describe them. The main character Tessa is dying and her character really portrays the anger and all of the emotions that come with knowing you don’t have very long left to live. Every character in this book is flawed in some way, no one is perfect and everyon
Abby Johnson
Tessa has leukemia. Tessa is going to die. But before she dies, Tessa has a few things she wants to do. She wants to have sex. She wants to do drugs. She wants to go one whole day saying "yes" to anything anyone asks her. In this heartbreaking novel, Tessa will find love. She will witness her family breaking apart and coming together. Although Tessa's come to terms with the fact that she is dying, she's not ready to die yet. She has plenty of living to do before she leaves. And her journey will ...more
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Jenny Downham (born 1964) is a British novelist and an ex-actor. In her first book, Before I Die, the fictional account of the last few months of a sixteen-year-old girl who has been dying of leukemia for 4 years. The book is told in the first person. The book was acclaimed and was short-listed for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 ...more
More about Jenny Downham...
You Against Me As ek val Unbecoming Love Hurts

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“I wish I had a boyfriend. I wish he lived in the wardrobe on a coat hanger. Whenever I wanted, I could get him out and he'd look at me the way boys do in films, as if I'm beautiful.” 475 likes
“I love you. It hurts more than anything ever has, but I do. So don't you dare tell me I don't. Don't you ever say it again!” 326 likes
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