Now is Good by Jenny Downham
Rating: 3 out of 5
Summary (From Back Cover)
Tessa is sixteen.
Tessa is dying.
But before that moment comes, she has an awful lot of living to do...
So she's made a list of everything she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight.
Heartbreaking, devastating, yet sparkling with life, this internationally bestselling novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's really like to die.
Now Is Good, originally published as Before I Die, is (as the back cover says) a heartbreaking story of a young girl dying of cancer. But in the last months of her life Tessa isn't willing to give up, she fights to do everything she wants to do, no matter what damage she might leave behind once she's gone.
I loved the story, but not the characters, and I really didn't love Tessa. Throughout the whole book I found her irritating and it wasn't until the end that I started to feel any form of compassion towards what she's going through. I think my biggest problem was the relationship between her and her dad, she's a monster towards him at times and you just want to jump into the pages and tell him it's all going to be okay. There's a thin line between sarcasm and viciousness and Tessa crosses it.
Tessa isn't the only character that I found overly tedious, I also struggled with her best friend Zoey. Zoey has her own issues throughout the book but her lack of empathy towards her dying friend does seem a little over the top at times. Cal on the other hand was much better written, as Tessa's little brother he refuses to admit his big sister is sick at times, but he also complains that he hasn't had a holiday since she got sick and asks that when she's gone if he can have her things. But you never feel anything but compassion towards him, unlike Zoey and Tessa where you just want to shake them. I'm not even going to start on how much you'll want to slap Tessa's mum...
Redeeming quality... Adam. Tessa's next door neighbour and true-love (well he's her only love). His struggle with falling in love with a dying girl is probably the most devastating. He's already had a difficult couple of years and the last thing he needs is this. He's the kind of ordinary guy any girl would want to have fall in love with her.
There's no sugar coating with this book, I think that's why some of the characters are so frustrating. Because, in real life you're not going to like everyone. It's a raw and honest account of what it's like to know you're going to die, to watch yourself wither away knowing you've still got so much more to give. There are some funny moments woven into the story, not laugh out loud funny but they will put a smile on your face and break up the morbid undertones a book like this has. For instance Tessa's dad and his constant advances on her nurses is quite amusing.
I'd recommend reading this book, it's well written and the ending will have you close to tears, even if you don't like Tessa. However, be warned it's not all rainbows and sunshine, so I wouldn't recommend it as a holiday read or anything.
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