Friday Recommends is a weekly meme hosted by Dani at Pen to Paper (if you haven't checked out her blog there, finish reading this post and click on over immediately!). This Friday, I have just finished reading Before I Die by Jenny Downham and must recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet, as it is an extremely touching, powerful and emotional book. Here is the summary from the book jacket:
Everyone has to die. We all know it. With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most. She's made a list, though - ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight. But getting what you want isn't easy. And getting what you want doesn't always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important. Uplifting, life-affirming and joyous - this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's really like to die.Jenny Downham handles the complex, devastating and often confusing inner workings of Tessa's mind as she nears death with skill and sensitivity, creating a striking portrait of a girl on the edge. While 'uplifting, life-affirming and joyous' are not exactly the words I would use to describe this book, it certainly causes the reader to question their own life and feel appreciative for good health and good fortune.
I can see why there are people who don't like this book - it's not for the faint of heart. While I managed to keep it together, I could definitely feel tears gathering at certain moments in the story. I don't believe this novel is about the story itself; I think its really about the feelings it leaves you with once you have finished reading. I know I felt glad to be alive and healthy, and eager to experience life - but also sad and a little scared.
Before I Die deserves to be on your to-read pile for its artful prose, both beautiful and haunting, its brutal honesty and the admirable bravery Tessa portrays while facing her own demise. Truly a heroine to admire, I hope one day I'll be able to face my own mortality with as much boldness and attitude as Tessa (wow, that's a morbid thought, but important all the same).
If you've read Before I Die, let me know what you thought! I love reading each and every comment!