Before I Die by Jenny Downham

The Lovereading4Kids comment

This is a haunting yet truly amazing read but don't read it too young. Definitely not for someone less than 14 years old. If you knew you were going to die what would you want to do? Imagine this from a teenage perspective when you have done so little. Imagine the effects of this on your friends and family. Even with the very bleak storyline this book is incredibly life-affirming.

Before I Die is multi-award winning and critically acclaimed; shortlisted for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the 2008 Branford Boase Award.


Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Tessa has just a few 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 '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, her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa's time finally runs out. "BEFORE I DIE" is a brilliantly-crafted novel, heartbreaking yet astonishingly life-affirming. It will take you to the very edge.

Before I Die has been filmed as 'Now is Good', starring Dakota is the official UK trailer:


“Before I Die is a truly remarkable book, and one that shows that as well as being able to pick authors of startling and undeniable talent, David Fickling has lost none of the enormous tact and skill that makes him such a fine editor. I very much look forward to seeing what Jenny Downham goes on to write next – as well, of course, as seeing what David Fickling discovers!” - Philip Pullman

'A book that will make you happy to be alive' - Heat

'Extraordinary' - Sunday Times

'Destined to drive hundreds of thousands of readers to tears and to swift injunctions to all their friends to read it' - Observer

'A work of great humanity and profound empathy' - Daily Express

'I don’t care how old you are. This book will not leave you' - New York Times

About the Author

Jenny Downham

Jenny Downham was our Guest Editor in January 2010. Click here to see the books she chose.

Jenny Downham was an actress for many years before concentrating on her writing full-time. She lives in London with her two sons. Her book Before I Die was critically acclaimed and was short listed for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the 2008 Branford Boase Award.

Get to know Jenny more by watching her 30 second interview.

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Book Info


336 pages
Interest Age: from 12


Jenny Downham
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Random House Children's Books

Publication date

10th April 2008




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