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Before I Die

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  49,164 ratings  ·  4,088 reviews
The story of Tessa, a young teenage girl who has only months to live ... a brilliantly crafted novel, heartbreaking yet life-affirming.

Tessa has just 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 ‘nor
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2007 by David Fickling Books
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  49,164 ratings  ·  4,088 reviews

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May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Shelves: 2010, favorites, ya, nostalgia
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
Dec 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: death-and-dying
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
May 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cancer-book
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
Lacey Louwagie
Sep 27, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
One of my favourite films of all time is the 2003 film My Life Without Me, about a dying woman who tries to fulfill her written list of things she wants to do, simultaneously learning to appreciate the life she's always regretted of teenage pregnancy and dropping out of school. Before I Die released four years after the earlier film and bearing an uncanny resemblance to it, is basically a much shallower and boring version of My Life Without Me. I really wanted to like it, but frankly I think oth ...more
Aug 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
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
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am very appreciative of my public library withdrawing books from their collection and selling them for 20c! It was on my TBR too, so even better.

This was a very sweet story, well written and a sincere rendition involving a sixteen year old girls' end of life. The author captured the angst and wistfulness of Tessa, who ambitiously sets herself a list of things to achieve before she dies. Family relationships, sex, love and a little bit of recklessness, a best friend and an estranged mum all com
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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.

Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, teen
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
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-list
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
Lucy Langford
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was quite young when I first read this but it broke my heart ! This had funny moments but was also a tear jerker. I had difficulty finishing the last pages as I was blinded by tears. I haven't read it since then but I think the younger me would have given the book this rating.
Chiara Cilli
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016

Così reale da farti male. Malissimo.

Mio padre è morto a mezzanotte del 1 Febbraio 2016.
Tumore al polmone destro, con metastasi surrenali e cerebrali. Negli ultimi mesi si è esteso alla pelle e alle ossa. Ci ha messo otto mesi per divorarlo, neanche un anno.

Non avrei dovuto acquistare questo libro.
Non avrei dovuto vedere il film, qualche settimana fa.
Non avrei dovuto leggere questo libro.

Perché l'ho vissuto, e anche noi non siamo riusciti a salvare papà.

E' da troppo tempo che sto male, la malat
Eleni Ouzouni
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Keep breathing. Just keep doing it. It's easy. In and out.”

Το Before I Die είναι το πρώτο βιβλίο της Βρετανίδας συγγραφέας Jenny Downham. Αν και το έχω αρκετό καιρό να με περιμένει στα ράφια μου ήμουν πάντα αρκετά φοβισμένη να το διαβάσω. Όταν ξέρεις από την αρχή πως η ιστορία σου δεν είναι ευχάριστη, δεν έχει happy end και καταπιάνεται με ένα δύσκολο θέμα τον καρκίνο μπαίνουν πολλές σκέψεις για το αν είσαι στην διάθεση να το διαβάσεις. Πολύ αναγνώστες μένουν μακριά από αυτά τα είδη βιβλίων αλ
Carlos De Eguiluz
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
La muerte. Que conjunto de palabras tan pequeño, pero tan inquietante.
He estado pensando bastante en ella, ¿saben?, y he llegado a una conclusión: Podemos observarla de manera objetiva siempre y cuando no nos afecte a nosotros o a alguien que nos importa. Sin embargo, cuando toca a nuestra puerta, todo es distinto; la observamos subjetivamente y le atribuimos el pesar que le corresponde dadas nuestras experiencias, nuestras memorias, y nuestros momentos. No obstante, al final de cuentas la muer
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
Charlotte May
Apr 10, 2019 marked it as library-loans
I seem to have a sadness wish by requesting all these emo reads from the library

"Library copy available for pick up
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Unlike most of the books, its title reveals the ending of the book. I think that what it makes this book different from others, apart from the topic. As for the topic, it reminded me John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars". I liked the latter much more. There it's much better depicted, what kind of difficulties, what kind of treatment and emotional suffering a terminally-ill person goes through. No doubt, both are not just sad, but even tragic.
A very sad story about a 16 year old Tessa,
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.
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
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
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
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
While it started out rather slowly, about halfway through, it definitely picked up.

I feel like it could have been so much more though. It could have been something absolutely phenomenal and some parts just fell a bit short.

But I will say this, I definitely cried.
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, favorites-2011
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
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
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
Scot Nourok
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Alyssa Wayt
Jan 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Before I Die was so freaking good!

Even though you know beforehand that the MC is going to die, you still wont be prepared for it. Nope, you wont. It's kind of like Me Before You or A Walk to Remeber because you will still end up shedding some tears after finishing the book. Maybe even before you do. Just know, that this book WILL MAKE YOU CRY.

This is my first book by Jenny Downham and I'm officially hooked. It was very hard to put this book down and go on with my real life. If I could stay in m
Nathaly Alvarez Jimenez

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
Kody Keplinger
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
“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.” 480 likes
“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.” 365 likes
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