I had very high expectations when I very excitedly bought this book. I had heard fantastic reviews, everyone who had read it that I had come across ranted and raved about it and its protagonist, Tessa. The blurb looked okay but oh how wrong I was, I thought this would be a tale of strength, determination and really living your last days to the full with happiness and laughter. That said I was also expecting her to be scared or upset that is a given but well I’m afraid thats all it was at times, fear and wanting to achieve the unachievable. It’s not just that the tale was sad, it was outright miserable to read.
I’m sorry to admit I got bored of this book extremely quickly, I forced myself to carry on reading and in the end I’m glad I did as parts of the novel were beautifully written, especially any references to nature. However, this doesn’t stop my annoyance at the author Jenny Downham, sixteen year old Tessa writes a list of things she wants to do before she dies of terminal leukaemia, sounds like a good plot line right? That’s what I thought but throughout the entire novel we do not see this list at all!!! I feel that if you are going to write a whole novel on the idea of a kind of bucket list, then wouldn’t you include the list somewhere in the book itself? However Downham does not give us one, we are left trying to struggle to remember what Tessa has achieved from the list and therefore making it slightly pointless.
While the novel is classed as young adult, it did feel rather immature for its subject matter and focused heavily on clichè. Number one on the list is to have sex, resulting in a quite strange night, which, if I’m honest seemed out of place in relation to the character and the plot itself. Another on the list is to get stoned, say yes for an entire day (which actually turns out to be quite sweet) and get famous, yes you read that right… I wasn’t that impressed. Then throw into the mix an amazingly annoying best friend who is ‘wild’, a runaway mother, a doting father (who I felt Tessa treated extremely badly), a very sweet younger brother (who should of had more emphasis put on him and the relationship he has with his sister) and the boy, because of course there’s a boy next door.
Tessa herself has not been portrayed in the best light. I felt little sympathy or connection to her at all. Yes she is a young dying girl, with a right to feel unhappy and wanting to do this her way, but she just came across as terribly selfish to absolutely everyone around her and, really, a bit of a brat. I was especially annoyed at the way she treated her father who had done nothing but good for her and obviously loves her so much, if this relationship had been expanded then maybe there would of been more to like about Tessa. Although that said there is obviously a deep connection between her and her younger brother Cal, although he to, is not always well portrayed and this could have been explored more.
For this I only give 2 stars **, I really wasn’t that impressed with it compared to other books I have read that surround the subject of terminal illness. The character of Tessa was not terribly likeable, nor did I feel I could connect with her and the plot.