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Ways to Live Forever

Review

Ways to Live Forever

Sam McQueen has lived 11 years, and so far it’s been a grueling journey. Diagnosed with leukemia at age six, he has been in and out of hospitals, dealing with endless nosebleeds, always feeling tired, and surviving the torturous bouts of chemotherapy. The doctors thought they had beaten the cancer, but it always comes back. This time, they suspect the worst and give Sam about a year to live.

Not all of Sam’s life has been horrid. He has two awesome parents and a younger sister named Ella who love him very much. And then there’s Felix, who he met at the hospital. Felix also has cancer, but it’s a different kind. Although Felix is two years older than Sam, they became best friends almost immediately. The two of them together spell “trouble” and present a big challenge to the nurses, like the time they snuck around the hospital corridors playing spy games.

Sam and Felix have school together three days a week at Sam’s house. Their teacher, Mrs. Willis, usually makes it fun and doesn’t push them to do boring stuff. In fact, she gave Sam the idea to start his very own book, in which he will talk about his life and coping with cancer. Included will be all of the lists that he and Felix make: his favorite things, what he looks like, what to do when someone dies, ways to live forever, and questions that nobody will answer. He also has a list of goals to accomplish, such as seeing a ghost, flying in a blimp, kissing a girl, and going up the down escalator. He never really expects to perform these activities, but with the encouragement of Felix, he starts crossing things off his list.

Eventually, both Sam and Felix’s health begins to fade. Sam knows they don’t have long to live, and the idea of death is never far from his mind. But he doesn’t let it stop him from taking advantage of the time he has left, or loving those most important to him.

Sally Nicholls has written an amazing story that will forever touch those who read it. Her very real character of Sam will wiggle into your heart with his honesty and openness, and no one will be able to refuse his sincere invitation to share in his challenging life. His quizzical mind asks the questions everyone wants answered, and his heart- and soul-touching story may even provide some possible answers. Nicholls writes with a childlike openness and sense of humor that, along with its page-turning intensity, will have the book finished all too soon. However, becoming Sam’s friend and sharing in his special story will allow readers to carry a part of him in their hearts forever.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on September 1, 2008

Ways to Live Forever
by Sally Nicholls

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0545069483
  • ISBN-13: 9780545069489