Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Recent Reads

Before I Die Jenny Downham

A few months ago, some friends and I were talking online, because Rachel had picked up this book in a bookstore and read the flap copy. She was slightly disgusted about a book whose premise was that a girl who was going to die of cancer had a list of things she wanted to do before she died like HAVE SEX!

And then everyone was all like, ack! promiscuous sex! maybe! but none of us had actually read the book.

Well, I finally did and it is absolutely amazing. And yes, there is sex, but it's a rather minor part of the overall story.

We're all going to die, but for Tessa Scott, it's going to happen soon rather than later. Before she dies, she has a list of the things she wants to accomplish. Travel. Fame. Love. And because she'll never see her seventeenth birthday, Sex. Drugs. A little law-breaking. A day where she has to says "yes" to everything.

Before I Die is a story about coming to grips, and maybe even peace, with your impending mortality. It's a story about dealing with your family and friends as they try to do the same thing. Tessa's narration through her final months is straight-forward. She's sometimes scared and sometimes brash, but she never veers into the melodramatic.

Heartbreaking and fantastic.

Dramarama E. Lockhart

Sadye and Demi are busting out of razzle-dazzle free Ohio to spend the summer at drama camp. At camp though, Demi is insta-star but Sadye has a much harder time of it. She gets stuck with the straight play (a disastrous production of A Midsummer's Night Dream) and, even thought she's a dancer in the 10-day wonder, she's told to lip-synch the singing bits. It doesn't help that she seems to stick her foot in her mouth whenever possible.

Drama camp was supposed to allow Sadye to be as big and fabulous as she wanted, but she ends up feeling small and worthless.

Lockhart perfectly captures the behind-the-scenes drama, tears, laughter, and glitter. Sadye and Demi's changing friendship is pitch-perfect. Reading it, I relived every horrible audition and spot-lit curtain-call. Wonderful.


Abby said...

I love both these books! Before I Die had me crying in the Detroit airport...

Jennie said...

Oh, I know! I was at lunch when I finished it. I got back to the reference desk and just felt like I had been run over by a mac truck for the rest of the afternoon.