Thursday, March 15, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die
By Jennifer Downham
Source: Won from Missie at The Unread Reader
Book Description:

Everyone has to die. We all know it.With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most.She’s made a list, though -- ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight.But getting what you want isn’t easy. And getting what you want doesn’t always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important.Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous -- this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it’s really like to die.

A quote:
Every few years we disappear, Zoey. All our cells are replaced by others. Not a single bit of me is the same as when I was last in this room.

Expectations: Reading this title gives me an instant rush of emotions as well as several questions about life and death that pop up in my mind. I knew from the beginning that this novel would be extremely heartbreaking, with its serious topics about knowing how much life there is left and finding a way how to spend it. It’s what initially drew me to reading this novel.

About Setting: It takes place in Britain in Tessa’s house. Occasionally there would be moments where procedures are done at the hospital and only a brief description is given. At one point, a painting was focused on at the hospital, explaining its significance at that moment and mentioning it again later in the story. Tessa spends most times in bed due to her sickness that often causes her to feel weak or unwell. The backyard or garden of her house was always my favourite because I have a thing for outdoor settings. It was during those times when the description turned lovely and fresh.

About Characters: The first person point of view made this novel so much easier to feel. It was as if Tessa is a real genuine character who is living, breathing, and sharing her story. I understood her motives, I felt what she felt, I ached for what she ached, and I wanted to live for her. She sets herself to accomplish the things on her list, refusing to let anything get in her way but at the same time is appreciative of the people who are there for her. Her relationships with them couldn’t have been more real as well. I could have cried for her younger brother, mother, and father, who are suffering a lot for her and who deeply aches every single time. The two other characters that stand out are Zoey and Adam, the boy next door. They both develop so much throughout the novel and become very important people in Tessa’s life.

About Plot: The story seems entirely real, with truths exposed without hesitation. The things on Tessa’s list is what every normal girl would want when you ask her what she’d like to have done before she dies. Tessa’s first thing on the list is sex and I was surprised by how sudden it comes up and occurs in the book. With serious aspects and emotional themes, I believe that the major theme is life and to live it to the fullest, which Jenny Downham delivered greatly. The only reason why I gave one star less than a five is that the story didn’t stay with me after a while and I have no idea why since it’s a sincerely moving book. It just didn’t have the kind of effect I was looking for.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y
Before I Die is a novel that touches your heart and then plays and tugs on it all throughout. It will make you think about what you have and appreciate your life without taking it for granted.

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