Thursday, 3 May 2007

Your Feedback

Have you read Before I Die? What did you think? We would love to hear your thoughts. Simply click on the 'Your Feedback' header above to read what others have said, then on the 'post a comment' link at the end of the current posts to add your own.

34 comments:

Christian Rohr, Bertelsmann said...

It is the most amazing book I have read for a very long time. Even editors can be moved - and BEFORE I DIE surely did it to me. The voice of this girl is brilliant, the story so well written, I could not stop reading - knowing that there is no happy ending, knowing that only a slow read will give Tessa more time to live…A perfect book about the meaning of life.

Martijn David, Mouria, Netherlands said...

I just want to express my thoughts on this book. You told me yesterday that I needed tissues and you were right. In general I do not weep while reading books …. Young adolescents might recognize Tess’s last wishes, sex, love, drugs etc., but older readers will be blown away by the story, by her father, her courage etc. …the first-person narrative is brilliant and proves for me she is a literary writer with a longer career than this novel.

Sylvie Audoly, Plon, France said...

I want to tell you again how happy and proud I am to publish this very original, and well crafted novel, the first work by a talented writer bound to join the literary circle of the greatest.

Gavin Hilzbrich said...

I read a lot of books, but can't recall a single one that has moved me so much or drawn me in quite so deep. I could wax lyrical about Before I Die for days on end and yet still not do it justice. It's the kind of book that lives with you long after you've finished reading it and one that I certainly won't forget in a hurry. Yes, it's sad and yes, you will undoubtedly need tissues, but there's so much more to this book than tears and sorrow. Before I Die is an incredible novel and the fact that it is the author's first makes it even more so.

Vicky Cowell said...

Describe this book in one word? Phenomenal. It really is the most thoughtful, brilliant and emotive of reads and I feel honoured to have read it. Jenny Downham captures the feelings felt by Tessa in a way that you can't possibly imagine without reading the book, and following the story through her eyes is emotional to say the least. My copy has tear-stained pages (quite literally, and indeed a few smudges of mascara where I held it against my face, sobbing my heart out!) but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone I know. You simply have to read it to understand.

Philippa Banks said...

Every so often a book comes along that has the 'wow factor'; a book that knocks you off your feet and leaves you breathless - a book that makes you see the world in a whole new light. Before I Die is such a book and all I have done since I finished it is tell everyone I see how exceptional it is. It is true that I haven't been anything like as upset as I was reading Before I Die for a very long time,(sobbing continuously from about two thirds of the way through the book until the very end), but I think that Before I Die's ability to move you is its special power and a mark of it greatness.

Marianne Velmans said...

I took a proof home one evening and though I had more urgent things to read, sat up until 2 am to finish it, moved beyond belief. I have a 17-year-old daughter who isn't exactly the keenest book reader normally, and supposed to be hard at it in the middle of revision for AS level, but she whipped it off me, when I got home that evening her eyes were all red, she'd just finished it (instead of her Byron essay) and she simply said, 'Can I let Alice read it?'. I think that by next week, that proof will have gone round the whole of the lower sixth.

What I found so special is that it's sad, but not depressing. It's a life book, not a death book. A lesson for how to live your life at any age - for the moment, seize the day! - as relevant to my daughter as to my mother-in-law who is 94.

Henrietta Lewis said...

How on earth can this be her first book? It is unbelievably good. It is all the things the other reviewers have said and more. I read the last 20 pages so slowly, ever more slowly, as if by reading slowly I could stop what was happening. Almost unbearably poignant, BEFORE I DIE is also life-affirming and uplifting, a truly beautiful and breathtaking novel.

Phil said...

A timely reminder, not as to why you work in publishing, but why you read at all. This heralds the arrival of a major voice in Young Adult fiction....

Adel Kouknas said...

Touching and inspiring, this is beautifully written and captivating. I could not put it down and although i knew she would die I still wanted to read more and find out how she went on living. I was not moved to tears but had many a lump in my throat. I can't wait for Jenny Downhams next novel, she is ever so gifted.

bookwitch said...

Yes, it is a very good book. The subject is interesting, and the way it is handled gets better through the book. However, a couple of largish details that felt inaccurate took away some of my enjoyment, if that's the word for something that makes you cry.

Beccy said...

I feel I need to write about this book – it is just so heartbreakingly good.
I wish I'd been able to read this book earlier on in life. Of course it's about love and life and therefore about how we cope with death – and that is just it – I feel more able to cope with those things now that I've read it. Like I understand something better now. Maybe there are other books that would do the same but Before I Die has done it for me in its tender, urgent lust for life, in this extraordinary girl Tessa. It is a life-shaping book and Jenny Downham should be tremendously proud of her creation.
I am very grateful for having been given the chance to be able to read this book.

Jackie said...

It moved me more than I can say. I want to echo Henrietta's sentiments. I have read it over and over.

I almost feel scared to praise it as my hackneyed phrases aren't up to the task and I don't want my words to put anyone off.

Give a copy to every one you care about!
A truly, wonderful book.

Hannah Ram said...

This was one of the best books i've ever read. My mate and I read it at the same time and it was all we could talk about the day after we finished it. It was the sort of book you couldn't put down, I read it in a day. It was so sad that i cried. Please can you do a book called after i die about the family and Adam's life after Tessa dies.

Anonymous said...

i loved this book it was truly moving and i didnt stop crying all the way through the last 6 chapters. I couldnt didnt put it down! it deffinatly mademe think.

Natalie said...

I have just finished 'Before I Die' in a day. I picked it up and didn't put it down until I'd finished. 'Before I Die' is the most fantastically moving book I have ever read. It is written with such empathy and insight and my congratulations go to Jenny Downham for writting such a beautiful book. I have read many books that have caused me to shed a tear but none have made me sob like this did.

A brilliant brilliant novel.

charlotte .s said...

this book certainly makes me feel happy to be alive !i could feel myself welling up inside when tessa told her father about what her future should be like.
This is a non-stop read .Icouldnt put hte book down .

Adrian Bleese said...

I'm not sure that middle-aged men were the target demographic for this novel but that doesn't matter it is an incredible book - this really is top of my list of all time greats.

A novel that has death, sex and drugs in its first few pages isn't normally one that I'd want my daughters to read but everyone should read this.

I can't thank Jenny Downham enough for writing this fantastic work.

lupie said...

I was somewhat nervous about reading this book as it touches an area very close to our own circumstances, but I need not have worried as it is so well written and so true in a lot of respects, that you just cannot help reading more and more to see if the circumstances and thoughts of Tessa are just the same as your own feelings. I cried, I laughed, I cried again and I am no longer afraid of asking the question.
Well done, to all who helped this book reach out to all those other readers who are to afraid to ask the question about what to do when someone is dying.

Francesca Smith said...

What an amazingly well written novel. Words could not do it or Jenny Downham justice. I'm an 18 year old girl, and I first picked it up because the front cover drew me in, I then read the blurb and started to read the first chapter in Borders.
As soon as I got home I started to read and didn't stop, impossible to put down! I've never been so moved by a book in all my life, it has truely inspired me to make the most out of every day and every person within your life because you never know how quickly it can be taken away.
I'd recommend this book to all ages, because I believe it has something to teach us all.

Rose said...

I'll eat something unpleasant if this isn't an instant classic. I'm 16 years old, have just finished my GCSEs and was feeling a bit... lost. This book blew me out of the water and made me laugh, cry and vow to live the life I'm so amazingly lucky to have to the full.
It's testament to how much I loved this book that I persevered enough to find this site! It was no mean feat...

Anonymous said...

I absolutly loved this book, it is the best book i have ever read! Tessa was very realistic and loved the first person narrative.I just wish she would write another book and make it just as good! i am 14 years old and would recomend it for teenage readers

Anonymous said...

I am 16, like Tessa, and like her I have had dark thoughts and wanted to die. This book highlights EXACTLY why life is worth living and helped to pull me out of a very dark place.

Thankyou

Mrs Key said...

I took this book out of library, started reading it at tea time and didn't stop until i finished.

Yes, it made me cry but it also made me want to go and look and the whole world like a gift.

I loved Tessa and Cal and Adam.

I loved how at the beginning Tessa says she will miss windows and swans and geese, because once you start thinking about all the simple wonders in the world it is impossible to stop.

This book was amazing. I will be recommending it on my blog, if I ever stop crying.

Katie said...

I don't cry often at books but this one had me sobbing my heart out shamelessly. It was so sad and beautiful and has become my favourite book of all time- sometimes, random parts come back to me for no real reason. My friends haven't read the book so they can't understand why i think it's so good. It's really made me think about life. Simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Im 15 years old and i loved this book. I needed to find an interesting book for my week long holiday to Tenerife and this was perfect. This brillaint book wasn't complicated at all and made me reluctant to put it down. Anyone and everyone would enjoy this book, its very down to earth and expresses the teenager thoughts that we all think. At the end of the book i was in tears and was finding it difficult to read as my vision turned all blurry because of the tears! I am looking forward to Jenny's next book as she is an amazing author and deserves wonderfull credit for this amazing book.

Anonymous said...

Everything I want to say about BEFORE I DIE has been said previously.
When I finished it I felt like my own best friend had died and I was grief stricken. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Absolutly outstanding,

thankyou for writing this perfect novel. It really makes you reflect on the meaning of life and Tessa's terrifying situation. I could not hold back the tears whilst reading this book neither could my friend and also her mum.

i wish Jenny Downham all the luck with future novels and it would take a lot to beat this fantastic beautifully writtin novel.

Anonymous said...

I think i must have read the book three times now, and everytime it makes me cry. Tessa is such a wonderful character and you really believe she is real.

Anonymous said...

I must say that I bought this book because of the front cover, which I think is beautiful. I usually read cheesy Vampire novels but just had to have BEFORE I DIE. I read it in a day! From the moment I picked it up I could NOT put it down and I am glad I read it. I cried my little heart out like a baby but I enjoyed every single page!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Before I Die about 6 mins. ago, and...I am speachless! I LOVE this book. It really made me open up my eyes and realize that life is WAY TO SHORT! After reading this book the saying "Live like it was your last day", just means a whole lot more to me. I really realize the meaning to "Live Like You Were Dying". I love this book and I reccommend it to everyone! I was crying so hard while reading those last 6 chapters!

Claire, 13 said...

I cried and cried and cried when i finished this book, which really does show the power of words! I was hooked to this book as soon as i read the first page! Tessa should be a person you look up too and easily feel for, I really do hope that -somehow- we could see the 'behind the scenes', the epilogue of this book. I recommend it to EVERYONE and make sure they listen to the words, this is not just a fictional story book, it is in some ways non-fictional and has a lot of meaning. I hope you all enjoy reading this books as much as i did, and don't forget to have some tissues handy, even for those who don't generally read books...you will need them!! :)

Anonymous said...

I have never loved a book more in my entire life. It brught tears to my eyes numerous times and also made me laugh. I love Jenny's choices of wording. When she says "The universe might be random, but i can make something different happen." This was my favorite part. It just seems to show how confident some people can be with themselves and how they can believe nothing will go wrong. How motivated an individual can become to change the world. This was not merely a novel to me. It inspired me to be better than who i am. Because even some who dont have the choice to truly live their lives can still be braver than us who do.

Sarah said...

I just finished this book, and I cannot stop myself crying. I was so hesitant to continue reading the book when I got about half way through it - I didn't want her to die. It is the most emotional, moving, amazing book I have read in my life. It is realistic, and there is/has been/will be someone with a story like Tessa's someday. It's a beautiful story. The style of writing is amazing and so unusual. It is the writing of thoughts and how we actually look at the world. It helps us learn about ourselves in a way and we can appear to others etc. It makes you think about the meaning of everything, and what/if it is worth it. It makes you think what we can do with ourselves. It makes you think about death, and it will either make you fear it or not. It's so strange...

I could write a whole book on how I feel about this story. But I will stop. I've never recommended a book so highly... it is beautiful.

Meet the Author video

Jenny Downham talks about Before I Die at www.meettheauthor.co.uk.

Watch the video here.

Book of the Month

Simon Mayo’s book panel have chosen Jenny’s Downham’s BEFORE I DIE to be one of their two July books of the month.

The programme will air on BBC Radio 5 on Thursday 12th July at 3pm (BST).

Jenny Downham will be appearing on the show to join in the debate, as the book panel and Simon discuss the title.

Visit the web site to find out more.

A message from David Fickling

Dear Reader

Before I Die is a quite outstanding novel by debut writer Jenny Downham, which DFB will be publishing in hardcover this July. We are, by modern standards, publishing Before I Die in record quick time and there is really no time for the usual word of mouth to gather momentum so I am relying on you reading the proof!

I don't want to say very much about the book at all, except for three things:

Firstly, I urge everyone to read Before I Die. You will not be disappointed. It is an extraordinary book. It is both searing, unsentimental and honest and at the same time almost shockingly affirming of life. If anyone has got closer to imagining what it actually means to die (and so to live!) then I have yet to read them. It is, in the proper sense, a joy to read.

Secondly, Jenny Downham is a formidable writing talent and Before I Die is stark, poetic, and both beautifully written and unstoppably readable.

Thirdly, Why are we publishing so quickly? Partly and very plainly because I don't think the public should be kept waiting a single second longer than necessary to read this book. And partly to show we can. Nowadays books sometimes have to wait an inordinately long time to get published. Often a book taken on by an editor is not published for one, two, three years... I have always revered to the nimble publishing of legends of yore like Victor Gollancz who could receive a manuscript in August and have it in the shops by Christmas. A small, personal imprint like DFB can be nimble and quick, SHOULD be nimble and quick.

Especially with literary gold dust in its hands.

Yours sincerely

David Fickling

PS But don't just take my word for it. Rights have already been sold in no less than TEN languages, in less than two weeks.