I read a lot of reviews for children's books and request a lot of books because of those reviews (and sometimes wonder why in the world I requested a book when it finally comes in...but that is another story). One of the frequently starred books this year is Ways to live forever by Sally Nicholls. My, oh my, what a heart-wrenching book.
The books starts with a list of things you need to know about 11-year-old Sam. One thing: he has leukemia. Another: he will be dead by the time you read this book. Ouch.
Sam is home schooled because of his health problems and one of his assignments is to write about himself. His autobiography includes a list of his life dreams, including having a girlfriend and riding in an airship. He asks a lot of questions about death, natural for someone facing that big unknown. He complains about relatives who come to visit him, bearing fancy gifts and then ignoring him. He feels restricted by his in-denial father and his overprotective mother. He is an endearing narrator.
I could not put this book down. I completely fell apart--sobs and buckets of tears--at the end, more because of the way his death was handled (no, I'm not telling you anything about that...read the book) than because of his death.
I noticed that my library's copy has 15 checkouts which means the kids are reading it. I'm so glad that they've found such an intelligent and sensitive book. I hope they keep a box of tissues at hand when reading it.