> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 18 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9781849921381
  • Imprint: David Fickling Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $19.99

Now is Good (Also published as Before I Die)

Formats & editions

The intensely moving and uncompromisingly honest story of 16-year-old Tessa, who is dying of leukaemia. A word-of-mouth bestseller, and now a major film starring Twilight's Dakota Fanning.

Tessa has just a few months to live.

Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests and drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It's her Before I Die list. And number one is sex. Starting tonight.

Released from the constraints of 'normal' life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Her feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and the powerful, bittersweet first love she finds with the boy next door - all are painfully yet beautifully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa's time finally runs out.

  • Pub date: 18 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9781849921381
  • Imprint: David Fickling Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Jenny Downham

Jenny Downham was an actress for many years before concentrating on her writing full-time. She lives in London with her two sons.

Her debut novel Before I Die was critically acclaimed and was shortlisted for the 2007 Guardian Award and the 2008 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, nominated for the 2008 Carnegie Medal and the 2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the 2008 Branford Boase Award.

Also by Jenny Downham

See all

Praise for Now is Good (Also published as Before I Die)

“Downham's prose is brave and bare, her characters relentlessly realistic”

Dinah Hall, Sunday Telegraph

“A work of great humanity and profound empathy. I defy anyone not to cry reading this book”

Daily Express

“This is an affecting and brave novel. Tessa is such a rich character . . . For everyone, it is a reminder to value the people that matter, seize the moment, wish with courage, adventure with relish, even if it's just a trip to the swimming pool, drinking hot chocolate or driving down a dual carriageway in the rain”


“Before I Die is so real, so sad, so true - and I so wish I'd written it myself”

Jacqueline Wilson

“Beautifully written tale”

The Bookseller

“Tough but tender, angry rather than resigned, Tessa is an appealing heroine whose company is never less than bracing”

Nicholas Tucker, Independent

“This is an oddly uplifting novel. It's about love and friendship and family. It deals with death, but it's a hymn to life”

Irish Times

“Moving and extremely affecting . . . Whilst the story of a young girl with terminal leukaemia may not be the easiest of subject matters, the uplifting and perceptive way in which it is written made this a joy to read”

Becky Stradwick, Publishing News

“Linguistic quirks and references to popular culture place this book at the heart of the world currently inhabited by teenagers and its frank, and at times almost nonchalant, discussion of crime, sex and death assures that it does not preach or patronise. This truly is an extraordinary debut novel”


“Incredibly life-affirming”


“The novel is a revelation . . . infused with a biting, refreshing irreverence . . . Its profound and stirring, its well crafted, you won't be able to get it out of your head for weeks . . . an unforgettable novel”

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (blog)

“It's beautifully, lyrically written with a penetrating awareness that flows from the book right into the reader. Downham doesn't shy away from a single taboo . . . Jenny Downham has written about a life that burned brightly and in doing so, given us the life-affirming impulse to make ours burn brightly too”


“A hugely life affirming story. It tells of the simple, everyday things that can bring such joy, pleasure and humour to the experience of living, as well as the anger, frustration and deep sadness that may be felt. Without wanting to sound clichéd, it reminded me that the one certain thing in life is death and that I should make the most of every minute”

Sarah McCulloch, BBC Five Live, Book of the Month reader review

“It is the most amazing book I have read for a very long time. Even editors can be moved - and BEFORE I DIE surely did it to me. The voice of this girl is brilliant, the story so well written, I could not stop reading - knowing that there is no happy ending, knowing that only a slow read will give Tessa more time to live...A perfect book about the meaning of life”

Christian Rohr, Bertelsmann

“I just want to express my thoughts on this book. You told me yesterday that I needed tissues and you were right. In general I do not weep while reading books .... Young adolescents might recognize Tess's last wishes, sex, love, drugs etc., but older readers will be blown away by the story, by her father, her courage etc. ...the first-person narrative is brilliant and proves for me she is a literary writer with a longer career than this novel”

Martijn David, Mouria, Netherlands

“I want to tell you again how happy and proud I am to publish this very original, and well crafted novel, the first work by a talented writer bound to join the literary circle of the greatest”

Sylvie Audoly, Plon, France

“It's sad, but funny too and ultimately heart-warming. It makes you realise just how precious life is.”

Newcastle Upon Tyne Evening Chronicle

“How she and those around her cope with living and dying is beautifully and movingly described in this stunning debut novel”

Julia Eccleshare, The Guardian

“...an uplifting experience”

Shami Chakrabarti, The Times

“Jenny Downham has created a truly remarkable book that sparkles with a zest for life and is heartbreaking in it's deepest sense. It is written with an immediacy and urgency that pulses with energy and poetic intensity”

Benjamin Scott, Eastern Daily Press

“This is a marvellous novel for teens, but just as much of a tear jerker for adults too.”

Independent on Sunday

“Ultimately the book is life-affirming and uplifting.”


“Before I Die manages to avoid sentimentality whilst remaining desperately sad and is guarenteed to leave you reading the last few pages through eyes full of tears”

York News and Times

“An affecting and brave novel. Tessa is such a rich character.”


“It fills you with the urge to live every moment as if it were your last”


“What could easily have been a teenage teer jerker is a moving and heart-wrenching story that will have you pleading for a miracle of Hollywood proportions.”

The Independent

“Incredibly inspiring, uplifting and life-affirming.”


Related titles