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FLASHBACK FRIDAY (9) – BEFORE I DIE & YOU AGAINST ME by Jenny Downham
Mar 14th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

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 To learn more about Flashback Friday, check out FICTION FARE!

FLASHBACK FRIDAY (9) – BEFORE I DIE

& YOU AGAINST ME

by Jenny Downham

Before I Die:1314332

Tessa has just a few 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, her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.

BEFORE I DIE is a brilliantly-crafted novel, heartbreaking yet astonishingly life-affirming. It will take you to the very edge

My Review: 

BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham is a remarkable YA novel about a dying girl named Tessa. It’s raw, gritty, direct, and descriptive. At first, I found it quite difficult to like Tessa. She starts out with a lot of self-destructive behavior, almost like she was trying to push the limits because of her illness, and in turn she left a wake of pain and worry, usually aimed at her father who loves her and has cared for her. Enter a remarkable young man named Adam who works through his own troubles to be a huge support and the love of Tessa’s remaining short life. I started out feeling frustrated and by the last page I was in tears. This is one heck of a worthwhile read. It shows how living and dying has to be done on one’s own terms. A beautiful novel. I also highly recommend Jenny Downham’s second novel, YOU AGAINST ME.

 

8720917You Against Me:

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?

When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author ofBefore I Die. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.

My Review:  Posted on Goodreads in December, 2011

Oh wow! Unfortunately YOU AGAINST ME is not a crazy premise. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl who accuses a college student of sexual assault after a night of drinking. The young man denies it. She’s poor, he’s rich. The boy’s sister (Ellie) was in the house at the time of the attack and her entire family, including her brother, expects her to defend him in court. The girl who was assaulted has a brother (Mikey) and he’ll do anything to protect his deeply hurt sister, including beating up the boy who assaulted her. It’s because of these circumstances that Ellie and Mikey’s lives intersect. What happens after is fascinating and crazy. Because how does one build any kind of honest relationship based on such horrific circumstances, let alone open one’s heart? But Jenny Downham pulls it off, and she does it magnificently!
I gobbled up this novel. It was good to see the system work. There is morality! This is a tough, tough novel with unforgettable characters. I loved it.

The Best MG/YA Novels About Death, Dying, or Those Left Behind
Apr 9th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

DEATH. It’s inevitable. And even though DEATH isn’t the biggest fear for MG/YA, (alienation from peers is number one according to a child psychologist friend who conducted a study on the topic) it is still a topic YA think about. Yesterday, I finished reading The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder. It was another powerful read about the main character dying of cancer that left my head spinning and my dreams mingled with images right off the pages. When I woke up, I started thinking about how many MG/YA novels I’ve read on this topic. I searched my Goodreads list and I realized that DEATH is definitely a reoccurring theme. No, I am not DEATH obsessed at all. But it’s everywhere – from the Hunger Games to Under the Never Sky to Across the Universe—all fantastic novels I highly recommend. In those novels, characters are murdered and DEATH is prevalent. But they don’t necessarily address the deeper issues of DEATH. So, I decided to compile a list for readers who are looking for some of the BEST novels that dig into this topic. In no particular order:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, WhoRuBlog post: http://www.whorublog.com/?p=1043

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, my Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/227446798

Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245856732

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/215029968

Fracture by Megan Miranda, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/243297421

Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/151807847

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz, Goodread review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/226657322

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/223975181

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/223975181

Elsewhere by Gabriella Zevin, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/274770802

Between by Jessica Warman, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/207351225

The Everafter by Amy Huntley, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/162762230

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/174050466

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/150999990

Deadline by Chris Crutcher, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/104403811

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/91838896

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/115787142

Read and added on April 21, 2012 – after recommendations from several YA book bloggers: The Catastrophic History of You and Me, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/195927203

MIDDLE GRADE:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (author), Siobhad Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator), Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/234705851

Radiance, Shimmer, Dreamland (Riley Bloom Series, 1, 2, 3) by Alyson Noel, Goodreads review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/223997625

Would love to know your favorites. Feel free to share by clicking on comments. 

 

 

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