Downham, Jenny. Before I Die. 2007.
I read this book because it's on the ALA's Best Books for YAs List. In fact, it's in the Top 10. After reading the book and finding it lacking, I looked at some reviews of it on Amazon. It seems that people either really love this book or, like me, don't understand what all the hype is about. I wanted to give three stars, but given the fact that so many people loved it, I decided to bump it up an extra star. I figure dozens of other people have loved it, so I should take that into account.
The main character, Tessa, is dying from Leukemia. She has a list of 10 things that she wants to accomplish before she dies. Some of these things include having sex, falling in love, getting her parents back together and breaking the law. She manages to fulfill all of the things on her list, or least tries.
The book might be rather depressing to some, although I didn't think so. I saw it as a positive story, at least insofar as Tessa was trying to make something positive out of the little time she had left. I think the problem I had with the book is the characters, Tessa in particular. They were unlikable. Tessa isn't really likable at all. Her best friend Zoey seems like a bad influence. Her mother is a loser. Her father is a main character, but I didn't get a sense of anything about him. I think, since Tessa is the narrator, that it's all about her and she doesn't bother with telling us much about him and his life. I don't think she even bothers to know what her father's life is like outside of taking care of her. I know she is dying but she seems awfully self-centered which makes her unlikable to me.