Recommended Read: Before I Die

I'm a bit weirded out by this comment on Amazon: "It's unfortunate, and frankly a bit surprising to me that this lovely, heartbreaking, yet ultimately life affirming book has been relegated to the young adult sections of bookstores."

Wait. Why is it unfortunate it's in the young adult section?

"I don't believe I care for the implication, at all!" says Lady Huffington-Snodburry, my Victorian-era alter ego.

Lady Huffington-Snodburry

Ugh. I could go off on this particular subject for days, but I'd rather not. So I'm skipping ahead to the happy stuff.

Yay! Happy stuff!

Er, though it won't SOUND happy because, frankly, Jenny Downham's Before I Die doesn't SOUND happy either. But it is. Really.

As you've guessed from the title, this novel is about a dying girl. Awful, right? Well. I'd like to state for the record that I'm NOT normally attracted to books about dying people. I read enough of those in high school. I read for pleasure now. And dying people? Not so pleasurable.

But Tessa's story is about life, not death. You see, she creates a list of things to do before she dies--

Wait. This is starting to sound like The Bucket List.

Ohmystars, I assure you it's NOT. I suppose the biggest difference between this and the hundreds of Hallmark drabble like it is the perspective. Tessa wants sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And she gets it all within the first few chapters. And then what? Well, that's what the story is really about.

The point of view is fascinating. It's told in first person present tense. And you know she's going to die. In the present tense. So how does THAT work? There were so many ways for this book to cheese out, but I LOVED the way Downham handled it.

I finished this in one sitting. Bet you will too.

Read this if you like: Realistic, narrator-driven fiction. Or if you need a good cry.

If you like this, read: Looking for Alaska by John Green and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

1 comment:

  1. I guess I'll have to read it--I loved Looking for Alaska and How I Live Now. Actually, Meg Rosoff's book was one of the factors that drove me to write YA.

    Weirdly, I don't write contemporary fiction, but I gobble it up. (I don't write it because I doubt I'd do it as well as them.)

    It's unfortunate that the commentator on Amazon has such a narrow scope.