Before I Die
By Jenny Downham, read by Charlotte Parry
Published 2007 by Listening Library
Tessa has been battling cancer for years, but now, there doesn't seem to be much more the doctors can do. So, she creates a list - ten things to do before she dies. Number one is sex. And she wants to get started as soon as possible...
Despite the tawdry description of this book (which sort of makes it sound like some weird kind of porn), Tessa's exploits are, for the most part, rather tame (though, I will admit, the sex scenes later in the novel are quite steamy). This book sort of reminded me of a Lurlene McDaniel book with an R rating - someone has a horrible illness but they are inspired to live life to their fullest. Chances are, they're going to fall in love and, in the majority of McDaniel books, be miraculously cured before the novel's end. Downham's novel has the same sort of tone - Tessa doesn't spend a whole lot of time feeling sorry for herself; she's just trying to do what she can while she still can. It's pretty easy to see where the novel is going to go nearly from the beginning - even the bits about Zoe and Adam don't really come as any surprise. I was moved by the ending, but not as much as I might have expected to be (and certainly not as much as by other YA books). I thought the reader did quite a nice job, injecting the right amount of personality and emotion throughout the book.