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4.7 out of 5 stars65
4.7 out of 5 stars
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2008
I read this book in one sitting whilst waiting for a visa in the Ugandan Embassy: I was so engrossed and had eyes so full of tears that I failed to notice when my ticket number was called, despite the 4 hour wait.

Ways to Live Forever is one of the most honest books I have ever read - it is hard to remember that it is a work of fiction when the characters seem so real. Sam is dying of leukaemia yet somehow his story is neither tragic nor sentimental. As an 11-year-old, Sam is keen to find out as much about death as he can: his list of Questions Nobody Will Answer is testimony to how uncomfortable the subject is for the adults in Sam's life. Yet Sam is practical, and curious about his fate, and determined not to waste any of the time he has left.

This book takes a taboo subject and shines a bright light straight at it: if a death is imminent, then don't try and pretend it won't happen. Ways to Live Forever is funny in a way that will make you repeatedly laugh out loud, uplifting and extraordinarily powerful. Sally Nicholls has a rare talent. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2012
I picked up my daughter's copy of this book and started reading it. Though intended for children and teenagers, its direct and unashamedly open language make it a very worthwhile read for adults too.

Sally Nichols addresses a very difficult subject in this book - a child's terminal illness - but she overcomes adult fears and reticence by using the frank, matter-of-fact voice of the afflicted child. Through an engaging first person narrative this book explores important questions: What are the priorities for a child who knows he doesn't have long to live? How does he perceive the actions and conversations of the adults around him? In exploring questions like these the book draws the reader into that child's world.

Obviously, this is not a happy, feel-good book, but that's not to say that it's entirely bleak and grim. There is gentle humour scattered throughout the story, and this helps lead the reader towards the (inevitable) conclusion. Essentially, in my view, this book conveys a message that tragedy of this kind cannot be swept away and ignored, but by 'normalising' it through the eyes of a child, it is shown as something that can be faced (just about). Nothing here is trivialised, it is simply expressed as normal for those experiencing it.

A fantastic book, and one whose honesty will be especially appreciated by young readers.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2008
I read this with trepidation, I know the premise of the book and was worried that it was going to be a depressing look at a child's struggle with leukaemia.
I'm a nurse and I have looked after lots of people with this disease and have seen the great outcomes and the sad outcomes too.
This book for me 'humanised' the illness, it made me obviously sad, laugh in places, cry, but it touched my heart so much so, that I've encouraged my friends (and nursing colleagues) to read this as it lends you a deeper perspective of day to day life with a life threatening illness. It's not all pills, drips, injections and medicalisation. It's dreams, relationships and the simple joys that a single day can hold.
The best thing about this book is that it made me hug my three children even tighter than usual, feel immensely grateful for what I have and appreciate the daily struggles that my patients and families deal with.
To make you grateful for a single day is reason enough to read this book, go for it, you will not be disappointed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sam is eleven years old. He likes lists, records and facts, he has a sister called Ella and a friend called Felix. Sam has leukemia and he has a list of things he still wants to do in his life. He's writing a book about everything that occupies his mind. He has a lot of questions and tries to find the answers. He wonders about death, dying and being dead, but also about living. He wants to kiss a girl, fly in an airship, drink alcohol, etc. Sam tries to make the most of the time he has left...

Sam is such a special kid with a brilliant mind, which immediately made me like him a lot. I loved how Sally Nicholls lets him answer his own questions. There are several daring ones, things that I think a lot of people want answers to, but are afraid to ask. The topics are all well chosen and the book is so beautifully written. I shed a lot of tears, but also smiled. It's obvious from the beginning that Sam isn't going to get better, but his legacy is precious. He lives forever on paper. Even though he's a fictional character he could have been real. That's what makes the story come so close and that is what makes this book really good.

Sam likes facts and this book is informative as well as moving. It's a great combination. Sam's matter of fact way of dealing with important questions and issues makes the story even better. He's dying, but he's tough. He's got such an admirable personality and still he's also an eleven year old with wishes and dreams that are normal for his age. I liked that balance and think it made the story really strong. Sally Nicholls also doesn't forget to show her readers what it's like for siblings and parents to live with a loved one who's terribly ill. Even though it isn't long the story is complete. I think Ways to Live Forever is impressive and gripping, it's a story that touches your heart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2012
I LOVE this book so much an it goes to show how lucky some people are. I would REALLY like to get this on Kindle as I've read it in Paperback from my local library. Sam is suffering from Leukemia and is suffering. He spends most of his time in the Clinic with his friend.....All of that is about to change! I recommend this book for Eight plus. I seriously think this is the BEST book I have EVER read. I have also read another of Sally Nicholls books called Season Of Secrets and it is great. She really puts you in the scene. Please READ this!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2008
I enjoyed this book and so did my kids. It is definitely a wholesome, touching and beautiful book and one I can wholeheartedly recommend. I had two problems with it though. First, its reliance on Jacqueline Wilsonesque lists - a bit gimmicky. Second, the narrator's voice which did not come across like any 11 year old boy I have ever met - he was far too lovely!! That said, it is a joy that worthwhile books like this one are still being published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2013
I read this book many moons ago (okay three years ago but still) and it remains to this day one of my favourite books. It is approachable and consuming and really just quite spectacular.

Eleven year old Sam has leukaemia. Whilst this puts some limits on his actions it does not limit his brain. He wants to experience life as a teenager and he wants to ride in an airship at least once. He wants answers to the questions that nobody will ever answer and he wants to know if it's possible to live forever. With the help of his family and his best friend Felix, he sets out to achieve these goals.

Sam is a great character and very mature for his age. He understands the repercussions of his illness and doesn't argue or fuss about it. Despite being eleven years old, he handles his life and actions with the maturity and understanding of a much older person. The story of Felix is both heartbreaking and heartwarming and I would be lying if I said didn't cry every time I have ever read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 December 2009
Sam is dying from leukaemia. But Sam is also a typical 11 year old boy. He loves facts and warhammer, wants to be a teenager, fly in an airship, go into outer space, try smoking and kissing a girl. Sam wants answers to the questions nobody ever asks: what does it feel like to die? does it hurt? Why do people make such a fuss about dying when it's as natural as falling asleep? There is no self pity or fear in Sam, this wonderful book is instead full of the joy of a life lived to the full, a very normal family living with a heart breaking reality of time running out fast, I was in floods of tears at the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2011
Im a 16 year old teenage boy, i read this book in one night, and OMG this is the best book i have ever read. its so full of feeling, emotions and it really makes you feel like part of the story, i cried at several points during the story, but it was still absolutely amazing, i can recomend this book to anybody who wants a good read, it may not be a long story, but its seriously the best book i have ever read, and i read alot. i cannot give this book anymore stars but if i could i would. Hats off to Sally Nicholls, she's an amazing author :) buy this book and you will NOT be dissapointed
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on 11 August 2010
I read this book in early January, and at the time I joked that it was the most profound and moving book I had read this year. Now it is August and I can say that I have not read anything that comes close (and I have read a good few books).

This book affected me for weeks after finishing it. Following the story of a boy dying from Luekemia, and written in his own words in his diary, we see the strains and tensions on a family, and ultimately the bonds of love that tie us all together.

Even now I find it hard to write this review without a tear coming to my eye, and that comes from a generally down to earth and emotionally challenged male! This story plays beautifully on the emotions.

Because the book deals with death, it also makes us think in ways that are healthy. It does not dwell on the negatives, but looks at the positives too. It is a good book for young adults to read. Nevertheless the content is heavy going, and I would not recommend it to anyone under 11 or so.

With the benefit of hindsight, I believe this will be one of my top three reads this year - and almost certainly the most memorable of those.

Highly recommended. Just have a box of hankies to hand, and don't read it in public if you get embarrassed by public dispalys of emotion!
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