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Before I Die

Written by Jenny Downham

Featured Books for 13+ readers Recommended Children's eBooks

LoveReading View on Before I Die

Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2008. 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.

Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2008.

Comments from the judges of the Branford Boase, Best Debut Novel of
2008 Award:

Nikki Gamble: “This year a large number of books were submitted for the awards and the judges noted an increase in established adult writers producing first novels for children. These trends reflect the increased profile of children's books in the press and media as well as the commercial success. The books selected for the shortlist are marked by their distinctive voices and authentic feeling for child or teenage readers. They are accessible but explore profound themes in the context of a story well told”.

Linda Buckley-Archer: “With its aim of recognising the author of the best debut novel for children and its editor(s), The Branford Boase Award continues to highlight and promote the next generation of children’s fiction writers. The 2008 shortlist represents some fascinating new voices across a variety of genres which are sure to excite and challenge readers. The judges noted a tendency on this year’s longlist away from fantasy and towards history and social realism.”

Trish Beswick: “We were delighted to find a spread of intelligent fiction submitted, eliciting spirited discussion amid the good humour and agreements. One-size-fits-all cannot and does not belong in the world of writing for children, and the complacent and bland were quickly cast aside. My thanks to the other judges for a booky, sparky afternoon!”

Ian Dodds: "The nominations for the 2008 Branford Boase Award yet again demonstrate the full range of new writing talent for children and young people. All the writers on this year's shortlist have distinct voices and all are adept at creating stories that will grip, excite and challenge young readers. Good writing for young people is vitally important and this shortlist proves that."

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Before I Die Synopsis

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 Fanning and was released in May 2012. Here is the official UK trailer:

Before I Die Press Reviews

Dealing frankly with teenage life, Before I Die will be the year's most talked-about novel. The Sunday Times

A novel that won't fail to touch those who read it...A book that will make you happy to be alive ***** Heat

Fierce, bold and bright...Jenny Downham is capable of exquisite, almost fevered writing, but she's also a master of pace, slowly establishing a heroine so brimful of life that it is wrenching to endure the attritions of the final pages Observer

Downham has not only eschewed mawkishness, but has managed to convey real feeling. Her heroine - angry, funny and occasionally irrational - positively leaps off the page...This is a thoughtful, and sometimes painful, exploration of what it feels like to say goodbye to life before you have had a chance to live it. The Times

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781909531161
Publication date: 02/07/2015
Publisher: Definitions an imprint of Random House Children's Publishers UK
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780552774628
Publication date: 09/10/2008
Publisher: Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781862304871
Publication date: 10/04/2008
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780552774628
Publication date: 9th October 2008
Author: Jenny Downham
Publisher: Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Suitable for: 13+ readers
Recommendations: eBooks

About 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.

More About Jenny Downham

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