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Ways To Live Forever

Ways To Live Forever

4.5 20
by Sally Nicholls

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From award-winning author Sally Nicholls, her debut novel about a boy's last months with leukemia. 1. My name is Sam. 2. I am eleven years old. 3. I collect stories and fantastic facts. 4. I have leukemia. 5. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead. Living through the final stages of leukemia, Sam collects stories, questions, lists, and pictures that


From award-winning author Sally Nicholls, her debut novel about a boy's last months with leukemia. 1. My name is Sam. 2. I am eleven years old. 3. I collect stories and fantastic facts. 4. I have leukemia. 5. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead. Living through the final stages of leukemia, Sam collects stories, questions, lists, and pictures that create a profoundly moving portrait of how a boy lives when he knows his time is almost up.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This year's answer to 2007's Before I Die, this first novel written by a 23-year-old Brit likewise features a young narrator with incurable cancer-and, while it doesn't entirely escape the conventions of the dying-child novel, it skirts easy sentiment to confront the hard questions head-on, intelligently and realistically and with an enormous range of feeling. Sam, facing his third recurrence of leukemia at the age of 11, keeps a journal, and among his entries are facts, questions and lists: "Questions Nobody Answers No. 1 - How do you know that you've died?"; "True facts about coffins"; "Why does God make kids get ill?" Sam starts out with a buddy, another terminally ill boy who shares Sam's sense of humor and who with Sam is taught by a visiting teacher ("No dying at the table, Felix," she tells him in the opening scene when he is mocking melodramatic portrayals of "the poor, frail child... struggling bravely"). How Sam and his family cope with Felix's death and Sam's own inevitable decline-ultimately, with humor, grace and generosity of spirit-will bring on tears; more impressively, it will also help readers address the hard questions for themselves. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)

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Children's Literature - Kathryn Erskine
This gut-wrenching novel is told through the eyes of eleven-year-old Sam who is suffering his third, and final, bout of leukemia. He and his slightly older, also terminal friend have a strong and complementary relationship. Their repartee is humorous and matter-of-fact, albeit sometimes macabre. It's an upbeat break from Sam's relationship with his family which is, realistically, more depressing. His father is in denial, wanting to believe that Sam is getting better because he is not suffering from the side effects of the chemotherapy. Of course, Sam is no longer on chemotherapy because it has been ineffective in fighting the cancer. Sam's mother does a wonderful job of trying to stay positive but, understandably, dissolves into tears periodically. His little sister is jealous of all the attention Sam receives. Sam's questions about death and his hopes about what can still be done before the end of his short life are heartfelt and believable. Eventually, Sam's father comes around, and there is certainly a feeling that all are coming to terms with the inevitable. Probably a great help to those who want to better understand such circumstances, this book will be a difficult read for more sensitive readers. Reviewer: Kathryn Erskine
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7

Eleven-year-old Sam knows that he is dying from leukemia. He has decided to write a book that includes his thoughts on the matter as well as his lists and his questions, particularly those that no one ever answers like, "Why does God let kids get ill?" Through his writing, Nicholls has drawn a portrait of a family coping with a child's terminal disease. Readers meet Sam's mother, father, and younger sister, each of whom is dealing in a different way with his illness. Well researched and beautifully written, the book is equal to the best of children's literature about death and dying, Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (HarperCollins, 1977) and Deborah Wiles's Each Little Bird That Sings (Harcourt, 2005). Sam knows that his father rushes off to work each day because he cannot admit to himself that his son is dying. He knows that his mother keeps Ella home from school during an unexpected snowstorm in March so they can have one last sledding day together. But, he does not verbalize this knowledge, just as his parents and Ella don't speak of his death. Sam is a child whom readers would want as a friend and he will be missed when the book is done.-Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD

Kirkus Reviews
"If I grow up," 11-year-old Sam informs readers, "I'm going to be a scientist." He says "if" because he has acute lymphoblastic leukemia and knows he probably won't. With the encouragement of his tutor, he starts to write a bit about himself, then more, until he is using his writing to sort out his death. Interspersed with Sam's lists, questions and odd bits of mortality facts on notebook paper, his narrative proceeds in short, candid chapters that reveal a boy who, though he's not ready to die, nevertheless can confront the reality with heartbreaking clarity. As his parents wrangle about treatment (he doesn't want it), his little sister grapples with the changes to the household and his best friend and fellow cancer-sufferer dies, Sam methodically works through the things he wants to do before he dies, from going up a down escalator to the more problematic ride in an airship and seeing the earth from space. Nicholls's debut skillfully avoids bathos at every turn, sketching a fully-formed character readers will be glad they've met and sorry to bid farewell. (Fiction. 9-13)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
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Scholastic, Inc.
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File size:
7 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Ways to Live Forever 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
A big thank you to one of my 8th-grade students for bringing this book to my attention - she told me it was excellent, and I do agree. WAYS TO LIVE FOREVER tells the story of the last four months in the life of eleven-year-old Sam McQueen. Sam was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of six. He successfully battled the disease twice, but this third bout will be his last. Now at home and taking drugs, not to cure the disease, but only to gain him some extra time, he decides to write his story. With the help of Felix, another terminally ill young boy, Sam puts his thoughts and feelings on paper. He details his daily activities, his frustrations with his illness, and the many unanswered questions he has about the end. He makes a list of what he would like to do before he dies, including things like "be a teenager," "ride in an airship," and "go up down-escalators and down up-escalators." Sam's straight-forward approach to his situation and those connected with his life provide an emotional yet inspiring story. There are humorous moments and heart-wrenching times as Sam lives his remaining days with both amazing curiosity and humble dignity. It is a powerful story I'm glad I didn't miss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ways to Live Forever By: Sally Nicholes The novel Ways to Live Forever takes place in many places including down town, in the hospital, and at Sams house. It also takes place in the early 20th century. It first starts off with Sam telling us about himself how he has leukemia. He then tells us about his school and family life. He has a mom, dad, and a sister Ella. Next, he tells us about how he met Felix in the hospital and how they became best friends. In between every three or four chapters he would show us these lists. For example, he shows us this one list and it says his dreams and one dream was to ride an escalator and another dream is to watch a horror movie. He then tells us about when he smoked, drank beer, and kissed Felix's cousin because one of his dreams was to do teenager things. But sadly, Sam dies at age 11 at 5:30am on April 15. There were many positives and negatives in the book Ways to Live Forever. One positive is that I thought the author did a great job describing the characters. Another good thing the author did was almost everything was described in the most detailed way you could put it. I also liked how he set up the book because he made the book a whole year. Every chapter would be a different date. Also, there were many negatives with the book. For example, I thought the whole book was really sad. I also think he should have made Felix more polite because he always got in trouble and sometimes he would be mean to Sam. One last negative was that he made the chapters way to short. Some of the chapters were only a half a page. Overall I really like the book. I thought the writing style of the author was great. The book was an easy read and the chapters and headings were clear. The author also does a great job of using simple and clear words. The sentences are usually short and the chapters are very short. The author uses first person. That means Sam is telling the story and using "I". I would defiantly recommend Ways to Live Forever because of many reasons. One reason is because it is a great story and some parts are very funny. For example, when Sam is telling you about how he met Felix, he says that he was trying to get old people and kids to bye him cigarettes. It also teaches you should love your family and who you are. If you like sad books than this would probably be a good book for you. Some other recommended novels are the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling, "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, and "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate Dicamillo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its an amazing book. Its funny, touching, and sad all at the same time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of Sam and his battle with cancer could be a very melodramatic and sad one. Instead if it completely the opposite. I read this after several of my higher thinking fourth grade students recommended it. I couldn't put it down. It is definitely one that will touch your heart...especially if you are a parent.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't be deterred by the overtly saccharine packaging. This is a complex debut novel sure to charm young and older readers alike. It's true, the premise sounds like a teenybopper version of that feel-good tear-jerker of a movie The Bucket List: Just like the elderly duo played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the novel's protagonist Sam is stricken with a lethal case of cancer, in this case, leukaemia. Together with his best friend Felix, who is also terminally ill, he devises a list of last wishes to fulfill before he dies. To Nicholl's credit, Ways To Live Forever rises far beyond its somewhat cliched premise. It is punchily written, laced with very real and often amusingly morbid, childlike musings on death. Sam is only 11, but he refuses to be coddled, saying: 'Going to die is the biggest waffly thing of all. No one will tell you anything. You ask them questions and they cough and change the subject.' As he writes the story of his last few months, you'll be moved to see him come to grips with the same issues of family, friendship and ambition curtailed by untimely illness that any adult would face. He does so haltingly at first, but finds a dignity and strength that belie his tender years. Sometimes poignant, often funny, but never melodramatic or precious, Ways To Live Forever is a straight-up, honest look at death.
Allinthe_MIND More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book!!! It is so cute! but its not a book that you can put down, you get the full effect if you read it in one go honestly, but still. Read this book!!! and watch the movie- it has Robbie Kay
DScheulen17 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my friends suggested that i read it over the summer because im a slow reader and she said that it wasnt a real short book so i hope to read some tume in my life By: Bear nessesities
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book acouple of years back and i fell depply in love with it. I really enjoyed this book. There are some really sad parts in the book. I told all my freinds about this book. This book will not let you down for sure. You should read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a couple of years ago, so it's nice to see that it came out on the Nook! It's a really inspiring read, and the character Sam feels so real, which definitely shows how strong the writing is. I could totally relate to Sam, even though I've never had cancer. If you haven't read this, you should definitely buy it! Also, the film adaptation of the book is apparently going to be released this summer 2013 by World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation, so it's a good time to read the book before seeing it come to life on screen! I'm going to read it again because of it, it's that good of a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a connection with this book because my mom is going through her second cancer and she is only stage one but she goes to all of these doctors, jus like Sam did. I love this book it is very absorbing i even made my friend read this and she even loved it. i reccomend this book to EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book now. So far it is really good. Can't wait to read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is awesome.it is about a boy named sam and he has luecemia and he is like one of those kids where any thing gets handed to them if they ask but he is not stubern its acualy his sister that is and he has to write an essay and he writes three pages when one of his "school friend"and he only writes about one page if even.he writes the essay about questions that nobody answers like how do you know that you are dead and stuff like that.