7 August 2012


Author: Jenny Downham
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers
UK Release date: September 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

Now is Good, otherwise known as Before I Die, was released a few years back, but has been re-released with a new cover and title to match the film that comes out in September and features Dakota Fanning.

Written in first person, Tessa’s illness is made all the more real. You can’t escape from her thoughts and feelings or the pain she suffers. The story itself is heartbreaking and it really makes you appreciate all the little things in your life that you normally take for granted.

The plot counts down to the inevitable, and I admit for a big chunk I cried my eyes out reading this book. It is very emotion driven and the intensity of the emotions meant I had to put the book down at certain points and have a break from it. The action revolved around Tessa’s final fews month where she was trying to complete a ‘list’ of things she wanted to do. Although this list was integral to Tessa’s emotions, every action had an emotional element to it – what was the meaning behind it, what was she trying to recapture or explore? I was a little surprised by her list to start with, but being sixteen I should have expected boys to come into it somewhere! I really liked the way her list changed throughout the story, not only for her own benefit but for her family’s.

Although the story is from Tessa’s perspective, you really get to see and feel how her family and friends are coping with the situation and how it is affecting them. Out of everyone I felt most sorry for Tessa’s dad, because he hadn’t come to terms with the diagnosis and was still holding out for a cure. As her father he also wanted to protect Tessa, and struggled to cope as she ran off to complete her ‘list’. Cal, Tessa’s younger brother, was a little star. Perhaps being a little too young to understand exactly what Tessa’s illness meant, he added a light and humour to the story that was desperately needed. His innocence and natural curiosity about life and death helped Tessa and me as the reader think of her illness in a different way.

Zoey was an unusual character for me. One moment she would be fully supporting Tessa, and I would really like her. And the next minute she would swing and come off selfish and uncaring. Even though I didn’t always like her, I think the story needed the balance of different characters coping in very different ways.

Truly heart wrenching, Now is Good, will have you appreciating all the little things in your life.

Rating: 5*


Sophie Waters said...

I love this book so much. Even if it did tear my heart out...

Clover said...

I remember reading this book and sobbing into my pillow at 2am. Such a good book and I'm dying to watch the film adaptation!

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