Ways to Live Forever

Author: Reviewed by: Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN
Content Contributor: Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Reviewed: December 17, 2008


Sally Nicholls




Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008 | $16.99 US | 210 pages

OncoLink Rating:

Ways to Live Forever is a fictitious account of the final months of 11 year old Sam’s life, a boy with terminal acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is so well written, you often forget that Sam is not a real boy. He approaches a topic that adults often find very difficult to think about, let alone discuss. Sam uses a typical kid’s no-nonsense approach to his numerous questions about death that no one will talk about. With the help of his friend Felix, teacher Mrs. Willis, his family and nurse Annie, Sam sets out to get answers and check things off his "things I want to do" list. The book is a collection of stories, lists, questions and facts that Sam writes over the course of this journey.

While you might think this book would be quite sad, I found it to be hopeful and uplifting with just a dash of sadness. Sam takes what time he has left and makes it worth living. Along the way he teaches this lesson to those around him- and the reader. Quite a mature lesson for a young boy, or a young 20-something author (this is Ms. Nicholls’ first book). This book may have been written for other young adults, but younger and older readers can enjoy this wonderful life lesson as well.

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