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Before I Die

Cover of Before I Die

Before I Die

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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, 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, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa's time runs out.
From the Hardcover edition.
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, 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, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa's time runs out.
From the Hardcover edition.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Listen
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    3.8
  • Lexile:
    580
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Reading Level:
    7 - 12

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • 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!’ he said as light flooded the room. There was the afternoon, the tops of the trees, the sky. He stood silhouetted against the window, his hands on his hips. He looked like a Power Ranger.

    ‘If you won’t talk about it, how can I help you?’ he said, and he came over and sat on the edge of my bed. I held my breath. If you do it for long enough, white lights dance in front of your eyes. He reached over and stroked my head, his fingers gently massaging my scalp.

    ‘Breathe, Tessa,’ he whispered.

    Instead, I grabbed my hat from the bedside table and yanked it on right over my eyes. He went away then.

    Now he’s downstairs frying sausages. I can hear the fat spitting, the slosh of gravy in the pan. I’m not sure I should be able to hear that from all the way upstairs, but nothing surprises me any more. I can hear Cal unzipping his coat now, back from buying mustard. Ten minutes ago he was given a pound and told, ‘Don’t talk to anyone weird.’ While he was gone, Dad stood on the back step and smoked a fag. I could hear the whisper of leaves hitting the grass at his feet. Autumn invading.

    ‘Hang your coat up and go and see if Tess wants anything,’ Dad says. ‘There’s plenty of blackberries. Make them sound interesting.’

    Cal has his trainers on; the air in the soles sighs as he leaps up the stairs and through my bedroom door. I pretend to be asleep, which doesn’t stop him. He leans right over and whispers, ‘I don’t care even if you never speak to me again.’ I open one eye and find two blue ones. ‘Knew you were faking,’ he says, and he grins wide and lovely. ‘Dad says, do you want blackberries?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘What shall I tell him?’

    ‘Tell him I want a baby elephant.’

    He laughs. ‘I’m gonna miss you,’ he says, and he leaves me with an open door and the draught from the stairs.

    -----------------------------
    Zoey doesn’t even knock, just comes in and plonks herself down on the end of the bed. She looks at me strangely, as if she hadn’t...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Sixteen-year-old Tessa Scott's surrender to cancer unfolds through Charlotte Parry's unrelenting performance. Tessa's list of 10 things to accomplish before she dies is chronicled through first-person narration and strong secondary characters. Parry pulls no punches as she portrays Tessa's involvement with sex, drugs, hospital treatments, and a best friend's pregnancy. Well-timed dialogue and imagery add to the quality of the recording. While most characters are fully realized, Tessa's brother's accent slips in and out of Cockney, and her mother's voice isn't always distinct. Nevertheless, Parry builds the book's momentum with professional skill. Listeners should stock up on tissues for this heartrending story. C.A. 2008 YALSA Selected Audiobook (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • John Burnham Schwartz "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."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • OverDrive Listen
    Release date:
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    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
    Burn to CD: 
    Permitted
    Transfer to device: 
    Permitted
    Transfer to Apple® device: 
    Permitted
    Public performance: 
    Not permitted
    File-sharing: 
    Not permitted
    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Before I Die
Before I Die
Jenny Downham
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