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10 Things to Do Before I Die
Cover of 10 Things to Do Before I Die
10 Things to Do Before I Die
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1) Lose my virginity2) Apologize to Rachel3) Get back at Biff4) Jam and party with Shakes the Clown5) Laugh in death’s face6) Go to Africa7) Rob a bank8) Tell Mark to screw himself9) Find out why...
1) Lose my virginity2) Apologize to Rachel3) Get back at Biff4) Jam and party with Shakes the Clown5) Laugh in death’s face6) Go to Africa7) Rob a bank8) Tell Mark to screw himself9) Find out why...
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Description-

  • 1) Lose my virginity

    2) Apologize to Rachel

    3) Get back at Biff

    4) Jam and party with Shakes the Clown

    5) Laugh in death’s face

    6) Go to Africa

    7) Rob a bank

    8) Tell Mark to screw himself

    9) Find out why Grandpa and Dad don't talk

    10) Tell the truth

Excerpts-

  • From the book Prologue: The Story of My Death
    My name is Ted Burger. I am sixteen years old. I am an only child. I live in New York City.

    I will not live to see seventeen.

    What else? Let’s see. . . . My voice is pretty deep but it squeaks sometimes, like an old rusty bicycle. I have curly brown hair. “Brillo pad hair,” in my best friend Mark’s words. I am tall and skinny. My fingers are, too. They look like twigs. “Musician’s fingers,” says my guitar teacher, Mr. Puccini. (Translation: “Girlie fingers.”) I’m good at blowing stuff off. I have a hard time admitting certain things to myself. According to my parents, I have a “nutty, Borscht Belt sense of humor!” (I include the exclamation point because they tend to speak at a high-pitched volume.) What they mean is that I’m a third-rate clown, but they aren’t really ones to talk.

    This is the story of my death.

    It starts the way all my stories do, as a bad joke whose tragic punch line somehow ends up signifying my whole life. Or death, in this case. Ha! Ha . . . ha . . . okay, maybe my parents are right. Maybe I am a clown. I don’t have the greatest comic timing. I rarely instigate–bad things simply happen to me. Pie-in-the-face sorts of things. But don’t just take my word for it. Consider the fortune I received on my sixteenth birthday (ironically, my last birthday ever, although I didn’t know it at the time) when my parents took me to the Hong Phat Noodle House–and I swear I am not making this up:

    You will never have much of a future if you look
    for it in a cookie at a Chinese Restaurant. J

    My mom’s fortune promised a lifetime of infinite happiness. My dad’s, a lifetime of wealth and fulfillment. When I complained to the waiter about mine, he told me that I should be pleased. “It’s true, young man,” he said with a smile. “One should never look for one’s destiny in a dessert item. One should look for it in experience.”

    I agreed, sure–but deep down, I still felt sort of gypped. I asked for another one. He refused. Hong Phat policy is one fortune cookie per customer, period.

    The real punch line is that I don’t even like Chinese food all that much. I like french fries. But my parents forced me to go there because they said that I needed to learn how to use chopsticks. “It’s a skill that will make you part of an important demographic, dear!” Mom insisted. That’s a direct quote. To this day, I have no idea what she means. (I never learned how to use chopsticks, either.) My parents work together at the same advertising firm, so they talk a lot about stuff like “important demographics!” It’s pretty much all they talk about. Maybe one day I will understand their baffling pronouncements. I would if I weren’t doomed to an early grave, that is.

    Speaking of which, the story of my death also starts at a restaurant. It starts at the Circle Eat Diner with Mark and his girlfriend, Nikki. I can’t imagine it starting any other way. Everything starts at the Circle Eat Diner with Mark and Nikki, at least everything that matters . . . everything that happens during those sublime, BS-filled hours when the three of us laugh and rant and eat, the hours just after school and before I have to run back home to Mom and Dad.

    Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I rarely have to run home to Mom and Dad. They aren’t around very often. They take a lot of business trips. All of which is a long way of saying that I spend more time hanging out at the Circle Eat...

About the Author-

  • Daniel Ehrenhaft, the author of Tell It to Naomi, has written numerous novels, often under the name Daniel Parker, and is the recipient of the 2003 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel for The Wessex Papers, Volumes 1 through 3. The author lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2004
    Gr 9 Up-Ted Burger's friends Mark and Nikki counsel the protagonist to step outside his usual pattern of cautious behavior as they consume their usual after-school fare at a Manhattan diner. Suddenly, a recently fired fry cook bursts in and threatens mayhem-with what turns out to be a water pistol. Mark takes quick and effective control of the situation while Burger watches and feels himself getting physically sick. No sooner does he get home than he is told that the crazed cook has poisoned him and he has just 24 hours to live. Rather than seeking medical attention, he decides to tackle the list of adventures his friends have devised for him, including liberal doses of alcohol and sex, taking on a bully from his past, and partying with the punk-rock band he worships. As the hours pass, and his nausea waxes and wanes, Burger begins to make plans of his own-an escape from the city to Africa. Instead, he wakes up in a Brooklyn hospital, diagnosed as suffering from panic disorder, rather than food poisoning. While all of the characters are engaging and likable, Ehrenhaft's plotting feels erratic. The buildup to the poisoning is long in coming while Burger's numerous escapades all get packed into about eight hours. The moral and ethical issues come fast and furious-the old bully is now in a wheelchair and saintly, the punk rockers are bored with themselves, Burger's shallow parents ultimately seek depth in their son. There are several great scenarios here, but the stitches needed to gather them into one story don't bear up to even casual scrutiny.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

    Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2004
    Gr. 8-12. It's the first day of spring break, and bright, nerdy 16-year-old Ted Burger is hanging out with his best friends at a New York City diner. Ted's friends are constructing a "to do" list for him, the first item of which is "lose virginity." Then Ted discovers a disgruntled employee has poisoned the fries he has just eaten, and he'll be dead in 24 hours. Suddenly the "to do" list takes on new meaning. The novel, which is broken into cleverly titled snippets, takes a while to gather speed, but the premise is fun, and Ehrenhaft employs many different literary devices, including lists, screenplays, and delightfully bad puns. Urban teens will enjoy the lighthearted romance and its unlikely hero.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2004, American Library Association.)

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    Random House Children's Books
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