The book "Before I Die" by Jenny Downham follows the story of 16-year-old Tessa Walker. Tessa is dying from leukaemia, and she wants to spend the rest of her life trying to accomplish a bucket list of 10 items. During the course of the story, she encounters obstacles to achieving her list, but she discovers new items, such as connecting with loved ones before it is too late.
Tessa receives news that her four-year chemotherapy treatment failed, giving her only a short time left to live. Her best friend Zoey helps her write a bucket list that includes some thrilling items, and Zoey plans to help her fulfill her list. However, Zoey soon finds out she is pregnant and unable to go forward with the plans. Tessa's mom is supportive of her new endeavor, but her dad hesitates to give consent until he realizes that they only have a little time left, so arguing or fighting is not productive. Tessa's brother Cal is a voice of honesty in the story, boldly sharing his feelings throughout Tessa's journey.
Tessa hopes to feel love before she dies and has her eyes on her shy neighbor Adam. Adam spends his time caring for his sick mother because his father recently died. As their relationship grows, Tessa not only experiences love but finds an wonderful partner in Adam. Tessa learns that the important things in life are not items on a bucket list but the love of other people. As the book comes to a close, Tessa feels increasingly encumbered by her dying body until she has no fight left and passes away.