Before I Die

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Before I Die

by Jenny Downham

Random House Children's Books | May 26, 2009 | Trade Paperback

Before I Die is rated 4.2593 out of 5 by 27.
For the many readers who love The Fault in Our Stars, this is the story of a girl who is determined to live, love, and to write her own ending before her time is finally up.

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 relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time runs out.

A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year
A
Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Book Sense Children’s Pick
A
Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice
A
Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

The newly released feature film Now Is Good, starring Dakota Fanning, is based on Jenny Downham''s intensely moving novel.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 336 pages, 7.95 × 5.41 × 0.73 in

Published: May 26, 2009

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385751834

ISBN - 13: 9780385751834

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

save 9%

  • In stock online

$10.44  ea

Online Price

$10.99 List Price

or, Used from $5.04

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bittersweet This book was absolutely breathtaking! If you have the chance to get your hands on it, I highly suggest reading it. It is so inspirational and shows you the rawness of what it is like to live knowing that you could possibly die.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tear Breaching This book was Absolutely great and totally sad at the same time. I don't really reconmend this book for people who find books about death depressing and really really sad. It was great the way the author described what she was seeing and feeling throughout her journey. Even though it was sad I think that the author wanted her book to send a message that means live life to the fullest and never stop living. When I read the last couple of chapters I really did start getting tears in my eyes. It was really really really sad. 4 stars all the way. :)
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Emotional This was a very touching book, I found a new outlook on life that you should never stop living and savor every second that you receive.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such a good book! Quite the page-turner, I didn't want to stop reading it, It's not very long, but you learn a lot through out the book, you learn just how valuable life really is, and it was a sweet book :) very touching, but interesting, I would of liked to hear a little about the other characters at the end, but that's about it!
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow! I would rate it 3 1/2 stars!! Very heartfelt story, very touching. I just went through a death and see the person i love go in front of me it was a hard moment to live so I could relate extremely well with her family. Downham wrote a very touching novel that will make you think what if this happend to me? It can happen to anyone young or old, and this story proves it. A lot of kids struggle with diseases and don't make it through and with this story you see it through the person's eyes, they want to keep living, they have stuff they want to do before they go. I really enjoyed this story, it is a good read!
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from TEARFUL i could not put this book down. without having the experience of having someone i love die in front of me, Downham somehow found a way to make me feel and react the same as if i did have someone dying.
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Truly Heartfelt Sixteen-year-old Tessa has been diagnosed with cancer and its terminal-she IS going to die. Tessa decides to make a list of all the things that she wants to experience and do before her final day comes and first on her list is: sex!! As the story proceeds, Tessa continues to work off her list one by one interspersed with visits to doctor’s offices, hospital stays for transfusions and other medical procedures. Keeping true to her list is her main priority. Her younger brother Cal can be a pain in the butt but deep down he loves his sister, and Zoey, Tessa’s zany friend is a weird one for sure. Unfortunately, her parents are divorced but Tessa lives with her Dad who attends all her appointments with her and holds her hand during yet another lumbar puncture, a very painful procedure. Her mother is somewhat distant and Tessa doesn’t ever remember her mother telling her that she loves her. In the mix she finds a love truer than she ever thought possible but at the same time realizes that it’s not always easy getting what you want and that what you want isn’t always what you need. By the end of the book I was literally bawling my eyes out. Her death was written beautifully but I was so emotionally involved in the story that I felt I was standing by the side of all the family members as she took her last breath. The book was uplifting and not written at all in a sad, cold, detached way that many novels about death are written, but it was rather life-affirming and happy if that’s possible to believe. As with any death, it is painful, but that of a child or teenager is even more so. Great read!!
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really packs a punch Sixteen year old, Tessa, is dying. She’s been sick with leukemia since she was 12, but there’s nothing more they can do for her. When Jenny Downham’s moving novel Before I Die opens, Tessa has decided to make a list of all the things she wants to do before she leaves the earth. Right off the top, she wants to have sex. Tessa is a believable character, sullen and bitchy one minute and hopeful and loving the next. She lives with her dad and younger brother, Cal. Her mother left the family to follow another man to Scotland. The relationship didn’t work out and she’s in the neighbourhood, but Tessa’s care is really left to her father, who has given up work to stay homelook after Tessa. Before I Die is a book about living the best way you can with the time you have. There’s a lesson in there for all of us. When Tessa meets Adam, the boy next door, her world starts to expand. When her best friend, Zoey, finds herself pregnant, Tessa has something to look forward to. Ultimately, though, this is a novel about dying and the last twenty pages or so are among the most moving I have ever read.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Read this book before you die This is a book about a girl named Tessa, who is terminally ill with Cancer. Knowing she is going to die, she creates a list of 10 things that she will do before she dies. This story really makes you appreciate life and the small things that come with it. It is a potential tear jerker and has an ending that will leave you thinking about it for a while. Definately worth the read but I picked this one up at the library rather than buying it which i'm glad I did. An inspirational read, nonetheless.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A pretty ok book. Upon reading the back of the book it sounded really really good. But it took me a little while to get into it. I think it may be due to the British slang, some of it I got without thinking at all, other parts took me a few minutes to ponder cause I am one of those who like to know everything and understandit. But all together this is a pretty good book. It was really good to read it from Tessa's point of view as to reading about her. If you have ever read Lurlene McDaniel books, this book is quite similar.
Date published: 2014-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great read, very sad!! This book was a little hard to get started on, but once you get into it you wont be able to put it down. The ending is eneviatble, but this book just keeps you hoping. Was one of the saddest books ive ever read :'(
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Words Cannot Describe How Good this Book Is I have never read anything like this book. At first I was waiting for something to happen, but about a third of the way through you see the true amazing quality of this book. It is true how they say it will stick with you. The last couple of pages really moved me. Read this book, right now.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I loved this book, it was very sad, very moving and very inspirational. Jenny has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, there is nothing anybody can do, she is going to die and before she dies she has a list of experiences she wants.......the book follows her through her list, the unexpected outcomes and the inevitable death. Its an absolute tear jerker but a definite must read.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely sad Tessa is a very sick, sixteen year old who decides to make a list of things she wants to do before she dies. Unfortunatly she knows she will die sooner rather than later. She enlists her best friend Zoey to help her do the things on her list, to make sure she actualy does them. Tessa eventually meets Adam, who happens to live next door. And although Zoey doesn't think he's hot, Tessa is drawn to him, and over time, they fall in love. He helps her do the things on her list, and when the time comes, he is there with her in her final moments. The end of this book is probably one of the saddest I have ever read. I couldn't help but cry. It is a remarkable novel, the author does an amazing job at creating a realistic character. It almost feels like you are there with Tessa as she goes through everything. A must read!
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing book i loved this book.It was interesting to read a book about a young girl who was going to die...It make me think of what would be the things I would want to do if i was dieing at the age of 16-17...
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Much more than I expected At first I thought this book was just another superficial teenage story but it was so much deeper than that. It helps you understand that frustration and fear that most of us might be fortunate enough to never go through. It was definately a good read and brought me to tears.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book was so well written! It was funny and sad and happy. It makes you think about what you would do if you only had a few months to live. And how you would live you final moments. Tessa finds love in the book, and it just makes it more sad cause she is dying, Great read for everyone! It was one of my staff picks! :)
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Sad but only at the end At first, when I begin reading the book I was expecting something very sad to the begining at the end. In fact the 3/4 of the book was the story of a girl who do a lot of stupid thing, it was neither sad or interesting. But by the end I was crying, ya in the end it was very sad. Even if it just the end that deserve to be read,its a good book.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awsome ! My friend read this book and she said it was great and i wanted to give it a try. i started reading it and i just couldnt put the book down, i was so addicted to it. the writing was really good ! near the end of the book it was just so sad that i cryed. i would love to read this book again when i ever have the chance (: im so looking foward into reading other books from this author, if she has anymore. its a great book and what she has been going through is horrible, but either than that it was a awsome book ! (:
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good this book was AMAZING! i couldnt put it down. and i loved the way as the book progressed, the authors writing style changed. It gave a real insite to how ppl going through cancer feel. all i can suggest is to read it. i loved it
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing i absolutely loved this book. i have read it more than once and i have cried my eyes out both times. I loved how Tessa expressed herself; i must admit that there was a little bit too much description of sex but it was nothing to be disturbed about. this book is about Tessa and her view and a lot of her view was on completing the main parts of life and to a teenager sex is pretty major especially when it is with someone you love such as Adam. This book was amazing and i cant wait to see more books from this author.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Adults can appreciate... Adults can appreciate this book, though it is aimed at a teen audience. This teenage girl's story of dying is beautifully written, insightful, and thought provoking.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from tear jerker this book sort of reminded me of a walk to remember...i had cancer mysself so for me to read it some of the details were untrue...overall tho it was well writting..near the end i could not put it down...definitly a tear jerker
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Something to Read Before you Die Tessa isn't like normal 16 year old girls, she doesn't have the time to be like them. She's dying and she knows it. So of all the things people do in their lifetimes Tessa is determined to live in the next few months, so she constructs a list. As the weeks pass and things get crossed off her list Tessa realizes their might not be enough time for everything. Soon her list starts changing and re-arranging and sometimes the things you want most change. This story is truly touching and heartwarming, inspiring and thoughtful. It let's you into Tessa's world and you realize just how precious your life really is. Tessa's story is touching and heartwarming and will bring you to tears, it's a book you must read before YOU die.
Date published: 2013-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking and Real Tessa is dying of leukemia. She is 16 years old and has a list of things that she plans to do before she dies. The premise isn't necessarily new, but the way in which author Jenny Downham represents her is. Things are present, vivid and real. Tessa isn't a "good girl". She isn't about to "make amends". What she is trying to do, is experience life. She notices the fine details in things and there is a recognition of the preciousness of each moment. Her relationships with her parents, friends and lover are complex and tragic. I would recommend this for a teenager who is well read and used to reading about a difficult subject matter and for any adult who wants a good cry.
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Overrated At sixteen, most teens can look forward to hanging out with friends, getting their license, and venturing slowly into the unknown waters of adulthood. But sixteen-year-old Tessa is different. She has cancer. And she has a mere few months left to live. Her last few months are anguished, painful, stressful, and very daring, as she struggles with her pre-mature confrontation with death. Writen with integrity and hope, this tragic tale moves readers to tears by the end. However, I was not as impressed as I had anticipated, and I believe that this book is overrated by the publishers. The plot was sad, but only in the last few chapters, and the characters were not very real-life-like. That being said, the story did end on a high note, (reading-wise) and left me with the feeling of sorrow, hope, and appreciation for humanity, kindness, and in fact for life itself. Although the book was good, there was room for improvement, which is why I can only give this tremendous story 3 out of 5 stars.
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Overrated At sixteen, most teens can look forward to hanging out with friends, getting their license, and venturing slowly into the unknown waters of adulthood. But sixteen-year-old Tessa is different. She has cancer. And she has a mere few months left to live. Her last few months are anguished, painful, stressful, and very daring, as she struggles with her pre-mature confrontation with death. Writen with integrity and hope, this tragic tale moves readers to tears by the end. However, I was not as impressed as I had anticipated, and I believe that this book is overrated by the publishers. The plot was sad, but only in the last few chapters, and the characters were not very real-life-like. That being said, the story did end on a high note, (reading-wise) and left me with the feeling of sorrow, hope, and appreciation for humanity, kindness, and in fact for life itself. Although the book was good, there was room for improvement, which is why I can only give this tremendous story 3 out of 5 stars.
Date published: 2013-10-29

– More About This Product –

Before I Die

by Jenny Downham

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 336 pages, 7.95 × 5.41 × 0.73 in

Published: May 26, 2009

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385751834

ISBN - 13: 9780385751834

About the Book

"This intensely moving story is now available in paperback.
"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 relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa's time finally runs out.
"A "Publishers Weekly "Best Children's Book of the Year
A "Booklist "Editors' Choice
A Book Sense Children's Pick
A "Kirkus Reviews "Editors' Choice
A "Publishers Weekly "Flying Start Author
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults"

Read from the Book

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. He wouldn’t speak much, but he’d be breathing hard as he took off his leather jacket and unbuckled his jeans. He’d wear white pants and he’d be so gorgeous I’d almost faint. He’d take my clothes off too. He’d whisper, ‘Tessa, I love you. I really bloody love you. You’re beautiful’ – exactly those words – as he undressed me. I sit up and switch on the bedside light. There’s a pen, but no paper, so on the wall behind me I write, I want to feel the weight of a boy on top of me. Then I lie back down and look out at the sky. It’s gone a funny colour – red and charcoal all at once, like the day is bleeding out. I can smell sausages. Saturday night is always sausages. There’ll be mash and cabbage and onion gravy too. Dad’ll have the lottery ticket and Cal will have chosen the numbers and they’ll sit in front of the TV and eat dinner from trays on their laps. They’ll watch The X Factor, then they’ll watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? After that, Cal will have a bath and go to bed and Dad’ll drink beer and smoke until it’s late enough for him to sleep. He came up to see me earlier. He walked over to the window and opened the curtains. ‘Look at that!’
read more read less

From the Publisher

For the many readers who love The Fault in Our Stars, this is the story of a girl who is determined to live, love, and to write her own ending before her time is finally up.

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 relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time runs out.

A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year
A
Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Book Sense Children’s Pick
A
Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice
A
Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

The newly released feature film Now Is Good, starring Dakota Fanning, is based on Jenny Downham''s intensely moving novel.

From the Jacket

Review, NYTBR, October 14, 2007:
"This may sound too depressing for words, but it is only one indication of the inspired originality of Before I Die, by Jenny Downham, that the reader can finish its last pages feeling thrillingly alive ... I don't care how old you are. This book will not leave you."
—John Burnham Schwartz

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2007
"Lucid language makes a painful journey bearable, beautiful and transcendent."

Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly, August 6, 2007
"The eloquent dying teen can seem a staple of the YA novel, but this British debut completely breaks the mold. Downham holds nothing back in her wrenching and exceptionally vibrant story."

Review, Entertainment Weekly, September 21, 2007
"Bound For Glory: This fall, five young authors deliver breakout books packed with razor-sharp writing."

Review, Entertainment Weekly, September 28, 2007
"In luminous prose that rings completely true, Downham earns every tear she wrings from her readers. I trust there will be many of them—many readers, and of course, many tears. A-"


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

This is Jenny Downham’s debut novel. She lives in England.

Editorial Reviews

Review, NYTBR, October 14, 2007:
"This may sound too depressing for words, but it is only one indication of the inspired originality of Before I Die, by Jenny Downham, that the reader can finish its last pages feeling thrillingly alive ... I don''t care how old you are. This book will not leave you."
—John Burnham Schwartz

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2007
"Lucid language makes a painful journey bearable, beautiful and transcendent."

Starred Review, Publisher''s Weekly, August 6, 2007
"The eloquent dying teen can seem a staple of the YA novel, but this British debut completely breaks the mold. Downham holds nothing back in her wrenching and exceptionally vibrant story."

Review, Entertainment Weekly, September 21, 2007
"Bound For Glory: This fall, five young authors deliver breakout books packed with razor-sharp writing."

Review, Entertainment Weekly, September 28, 2007
"In luminous prose that rings completely true, Downham earns every tear she wrings from her readers. I trust there will be many of them—many readers, and of course, many tears. A-"


From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS...

1. Describe Tessa’s relationship with her father. How has this relationship been shaped by Tessa’s illness? Debate whether Cal, Tessa’s younger brother, feels neglected by his father. Discuss Tessa’s relationship with her mother. Why did she leave home? When does Tessa miss her mother the most?
2. Discuss the true qualities of a friend. Which of these qualities best describes Tessa and Zoey’s friendship? What does Zoey offer Tessa that her father cannot give? Why does Tessa’s father call Zoey when Tessa won’t get out of bed? Cal hates Zoey. How does Tessa explain her friendship with Zoey to her little brother?
3. Tessa’s father is frustrated when she becomes withdrawn. He says, “If you won’t talk about it, how can I help?” (p. 2) How does this withdrawal represent the first stage of grief? Why is talking about feelings always better than keeping them to yourself?
4. Discuss why Tessa doesn’t want to return to school. She says that Zoey is the only person at school that isn’t afraid of her illness. Explain how difficult it is for teenagers to deal with the terminal illness of a classmate. What might Zoey say to other students that would help them know how to interact with Tessa?
5. Tessa writes her private thoughts on the wall beside her bed. Why does she let Zoey read what she has written?
6. Zoey tells Tessa that it’s all right to be afraid. How does Tessa reveal her fear? How does she use her hat to hide her fear? Discuss how Cal, Adam and Tessa’s father express their fear.
7. How is Tessa’s list a form of bargaining and acceptance? At what point in the novel does Tessa accept the fact that she is dying? Explain how her list helps her “get on with living.” Which item on her list is the most dangerous? Why does doing illegal things like shoplifting and driving without a license give Tessa a thrill?
8. Tessa’s father wants to know the things on her list. He says, “I need to know about it, not because I want to stop you, but because I want to keep you safe.” (p. 80) Discuss how Tessa reacts to her father when he asks to see the list.
9. Discuss the conversation between Tessa and her father after she is caught shoplifting. Why does he think anger is taking her over?
10. How is Tessa’s list confusing to her father? Explain how Tessa’s list is self-centered. Her mum tells her, “You have to think about the people who love you.” (p. 170) At what point does Tessa begin to think about Cal and her father? Explain why Tessa’s mother speaks in past tense when she says, “we loved you.” Why is it unrealistic for Tessa to think that she can rekindle her parents’ relationship?
11. Why do you think sex is number one on Tessa’s list of things she wants to do before she dies? Tessa worries about being a “slag” if she has sex with someone that she doesn’t know. Explain Zoey’s reaction to Tessa’s thoughts.
12. Tessa says that walking up the stairs behind a boy she doesn’t know reminds her of hospital corridors. What do the stairs and the corridors symbolize?
13. Discuss the moments in the novel that Tessa is most depressed. Who helps her deal with her depression?
14. Why does Zoey suspect that Tessa is in love with Adam? What does Zoey mean when she says, “I thought you understood the rules! Never let a bloke into your heart–it’s fatal”? (p. 88) Why is Adam different than Zoey? Discuss what Adam means when he says, “I can’t give you what you want.” (p. 117) What does he ultimately give her? What does she offer him?
15. Tessa asks the home health care nurse if she believes in God. What is the significance of this inquiry? Tessa tells the nurse that she doesn’t believe in heaven. Discuss the nurse’s reaction to Tessa’s confession. Why does the nurse think a support group might be helpful to Tessa? How does Tessa’s list take the place of a support group?
16. How does Tessa’s dad react when he finds out Zoey wants to terminate her pregnancy? Discuss how his opinion is related to Tessa’s terminal illness.
17. Sorrow, loneliness, anxiety, and guilt are emotions associated with grief. How does each of the characters in the novel deal with these emotions?



ABOUT THIS BOOK...

Seventeen-year-old Tessa struggles to work through a list of things she wants to do before she dies as her battle with leukemia comes to an end.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was 12. That was the same year that her mother left home. Now, Tessa is in the finally stages of her illness, and there are a list of things that she wants to do before she dies. This list confuses her father, who has quit his job to take care of her, but he ultimately understands that the list helps her focus on life rather than death. Zoey, Tessa’s best friend, is by her side as she moves down the list. There are many symbolic relationships and events that help Tessa face her untimely death. Among them are Adam, a neighbor who is dealing with his own loss, but gives Tessa the romance that she is seeking; her mother’s brief reappearance in her life; and, a return to a favorite family vacation spot. 

BEFORE READING THE BOOK
Discuss the five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Write a letter from the point of view of a dying person that expresses one of these stages of grief.


ABOUT THIS AUTHOR...

Jenny Downham trained as an actor and worked in alternative theatre before starting to write. She lives in London.

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart