Before I Die tells the story of sixteen-year-old Tessa, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Throughout the book she struggles with the knowledge that she will die before she can grow old, leaving behind everyone she loves. She creates a list of things she has to do before she dies, and the main plot revolves around her trying to do everything, as well as her relationships and her thoughts and feelings about her imminent death.
Obviously, any book about a teenager dying from cancer is going to be sad, and this one is no exception. Some parts of the book are joyously happy, but mainly it’s incredibly sad (and I cried at the end, like the sentimental teenage girl that I am). This isn’t to say it’s not a good book. Just don’t read it if you want to be in a cheerful mood. It will make you think about life and really consider everything we have, how we take so much for granted. I know that sounds cliched but it's totally true for this book. Throughout the book you just want to be there for Tessa and assure her that things will be alright. She’s a great protagonist, even though she has her flaws. Her family and friends make up a diverse cast of characters, all helping or affecting Tessa in some way.
I would recommend this for anyone who likes dramatic, moving novels, such as My Sister’s Keeper and The Lovely Bones. I think it’s best for ages 14 and over.