Published: May 2007
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, and 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, are all painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time runs out.
Miracles don’t happen. Tess is going to die and there’s no way to stop it, the cancer is eating her up. But she can do all the things she wants before her time runs out.
The title basically gives away 80% of the story. Tess makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies; things like losing her virginity, trying drugs, saying yes to everything for the whole day.
I read reviews of this book and how everyone was sad and heartbroken. I expected this to be heart breaking and for me not to want to leave my house for about a week because I couldn’t deal with the story. But this did exactly the opposite. For those of you who are saying this is the saddest book ever, or how heart breaking the book is; yes it is. Yes it’s heart breaking, yes it makes you want to crawl into a hole and give up with life for a bit. But you’re all missing the point. This wasn’t intended to be a sad book that wants to make everyone depressed because Tess didn’t get to continue her life, and yes it’s super unfair that she had cancer since she was 12, and yes it’s sad that she just got a boyfriend who he loves her and she dies. But she didn’t give up. Hell she made a list of things that could possibly shorten her already short life, a list that her dying body could hardly keep up but she still did it. She did those things to make her feel alive for as long as she could and if this story doesn’t inspire you to get off your ass and grab the life by the throat then you’re missing the whole point of this book.
The characters are developed so well in this book I just want to hold them all and cry. Jenny Downham has a serious gift when it comes to creating life like characters. Her best friend Zoey doesn’t take crap even when it comes to Tess’ cancer. I do think that she takes her whole not caring about the illness too far. I wouldn’t treat my bestfriend any differently but I don’t know… I don’t really liked Zoey until the end. Tessa’s dad and brother were just right. I was so sympathetic towards her dad. I just wanted him to be happy and not have a dying daughter and for his wife to not have left him to deal with it all by myself.
The love story. As much as I like Adam and his also somewhat heart breaking family story I kind of wish that the focus wasn’t so much on the love story. Tessa’s life changed when she met her 18 year old new neighbour and they fell in love. I feel like her list and her life before she met Adam should have been more of a highlight of the novel. Although I did like Adam; he didn’t get scared and he stayed by Tessa’s side the whole time he took so much crap from her. She acted out of order a lot and I don’t think he had a backbone. He should have learned to stand up for himself. Even if it was to his dying girlfriend.