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Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die

Family Drama   NewGen - YA Fiction   All Shortlists and Winners   eBook Favourites   
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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Winner of the Branford Boase Award 2008 for debut novel. What would you do if you were a teenage girl with leukaemia and only a short time to live? Tess has ten things on her list and with the help of her best friend she embarks upon them with gusto. This is an extraordinary novel. Despite the inevitable, it is enormously uplifting, at times humorous, often sad and always surprising. The reaction to those around her and how they treat her is as astutely observed as the dying girl herself.

Comparison: Alice Kuipers, Meg Rosoff.

If you like Jenny Downham you might also like to read books by Alice Sebold, Meg Rosoff and Alice Kuipers.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


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 Ten Things 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.

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

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

‘Downham's prose is brave and bare, her characters relentlessly realistic’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A work of great humanity and profound empathy’ Daily Express

‘Affecting and brave…For everyone, it is a reminder to value the people that matter, seize the moment, wish with courage, adventure with relish, even if it's just a trip to the swimming pool, drinking hot chocolate or driving down a dual carriageway in the rain’ Guardian

About the Author

Jenny Downham

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

Publication date

9th October 2008


Jenny Downham

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Transworld Publishers Ltd


352 pages


Family Drama
NewGen - YA Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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