Wednesday 31 October 2012

Book Review - Before I Die

Title: Before I Die (also re-released as 'Now Is Good')
Author: Jenny Downham
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Release Date: 2010
ISBN13: 9781849920452

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 finally runs out.

My Review
I saw this on the shelves in Libraries and book shops for years but never picked it up, sounded a little too depressing for me. Then a few weeks ago I saw a movie trailer for a film called 'Now Is Good', it stars Dakota Fanning as the lead character and she is one of my favourite actresses. I then discovered that the film was based on this book, and still whilst not a cheery subject I decided to give it a go. If I know a film is based on a book I have to read the book first, so I requested a copy.
It arrived at the library but got knocked down my list to make way for some review books, but today I was inbetween books and figured this was quite short and would be a fairly quick read.

Now I have very mixed emotions about this book, I absolutely loved it, it's so beautiful and heartfelt and real and just powerful. It will make you feel, laugh, cry and realise you are lucky to be alive. My heart really goes out to Tessa and I felt like I connected with her. But on another level I hated this book - and it's purely for personal reasons. My Gran died of Cancer back in April of this year, it was short and shocking and I still miss her everyday, I always knew reading a book where the main character has cancer would be hard but I thought I could handle it, and I coped surprisingly well, but towards the end I could not stop the tears, Downham writes everything so realistically that it brought back some painful memories that made me want to put the book down and run away. I hated it for making me feel this way, then loved it at the same time. I guess this shows just what a powerful book it was and just how well written and researched it was.

Tessa has been fighting cancer/leukemia for 4 years and is coming to the end, she decides to give up the medication and just live life. She creates a list of all the things she wants to do before her time is up and tries her hardest to live what is left of her time to it's full.
Yes it is a very sad story and not exactly a 'light' read but there is something so magical and powerful about it, you will absolutely fall in love. 

So I would say if you have personal experiences with this sort of thing, be warned, it will stir up memories, but if you feel like you can handle it, i would still recommend it. A lot of things are explained and may clear up some questions. 
If you just want a book to stick your teeth into, something that will make you feel and fall in love with the characters, then this is definitely the book to pick up.

I would sum this book up as 'Hauntingly Beautiful'.
And I definitely still want to see the film, I'll just have to make sure I have a box of tissues with me!

My Rating


Elizabeth said...

This book preceeded to rip my heart out of my chest, tear it into shreds, then stop on those shreds. And I loved every minute. SUCH a good book. I think mine may still be a bit soggy though from the ridiculous sobbing. :)

barmybex said...

You summed it up perfectly! Really is a heartbreaker of a book.