Ways to live forever, p.1
Ways to Live Forever, p.1Sally Nicholls
“Powerful, inspiring and courageous … the debut of the year”
“This is an elegant, intelligent, moving and sometimes even funny book. Young readers (and brave parents, and teachers) will love it”
“… A Jodi Picoult for teens that pulls no punches”
Sue Steel, Simply Books
“... Wonderful. Moving and funny and, yes, sad”
“Heart-wrenching… an exceedingly poignant read”
“A deeply affecting and life-affirming read”
Nikki Gamble, Writeaway
“Sympathetic, touching and surprisingly funny … a fantastic debut”
“Moving, tender but also deeply humorous”
The Bath Chronicle
“An excellent and moving work … beautifully done”
Ways to Live Forever
Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize
Glen Dimplex New Writer of the Year
Concorde Book Award
North East Book Award
Hillingdon Secondary School Book of the Year
Warwickshire Secondary Schools Book Award
Bolton Children’s Book of the Year
Calderdale Book of the Year
Luchs Prize – Best Book of the Year (Germany)
USBBY List of Outstanding International Books (U.S.A.)
Branford Boase Award
Manchester Book of the Year
UKLA Children’s Book Awards
Lancashire Book of the Year
Brilliant Book Award, Nottingham Libraries
Grampian Children’s Book Award
Gateshead Libraries Children’s Book Award
Mad About Books Stockport Schools' Book Award
Le Prix des Incorruptibles (France)
WHSmith Children’s Book of the Year
CILIP Carnegie Medal
Praise from readers
“The best book I have ever read”
Sarah, age 12
“Perfect from start to finish”
“An excellent, inspiring book”
“This is the most AMAZING book ever, both hilarious and moving at the same time. When I got to the end I was fighting back the tears”
“(My 11-year-old daughter) enjoyed it so much she begged me to read it … it is an amazing book that touched me so much”
“This is a beautiful, life affirming, funny and special book. I laughed through the first half and cried through the next”
Hilary, age 31
“I will recommend this to anyone I can and will LOVE it forever”
“I can’t remember the last time I sobbed so much and when a novel has had such a profound effect on me. I can’t wait to loan (but not give!) this book to my friends”
Joy, age 39
To Mum and Tom,
Nicola, Carolyn and Sarah.
List No. 1 – Five Facts About Me
A Book About Us
Why I Like Facts
Questions Nobody Answers No. 1
How Do You Know That You’ve Died?
List No. 2 – Five Facts About How I Look
Mum and Dad
List No. 3 – Things That I Want To Do
The Occasional Wardrobe Nightclub
Questions Nobody Answers No. 2
A Bloody Battle
The French Spy or The Story of How I Met Felix
Why Does God Make Kids Get Ill?
List No. 4 – Favourite Things
Too Disturbing for Home Viewing
My Life in Hospitals
Questions Nobody Answers No. 3
The Story of Grandfather’s Footsteps
Me and Marian
True Facts about Coffins
Why I Want an Airship
Be a Teenager
List No. 5 – Ways to Live Forever
Going to the Moon
The Story of Stars
Kidnapping the Phone
The Story of the Cure
A Phone Call
Questions Nobody Answers No. 4
What is Dying?
Alone in the Night
List No. 6 – What To Do When Someone Dies
Questions Nobody Answers No. 5
The Story of the Man Who Weighed the Human Soul
Questions Nobody Answers No. 6
Things That Have Happened
A Snow Fall
Questions Nobody Answers No. 7
What Happened in the Middle of the Night
List No. 7 – Five Facts About Dad
An Advertisement for Washing Powder
List No. 8 – Fantastic Airship Facts
List No. 9 – Best Things
Questions Nobody Answers No. 8
The Moon and the Apple Tree
Why Do We Have to Die Anyway?
List No. 10 – Where Do You Go After You Die?
List No. 11 – Things I Want to Happen After I’m Dead
A BOOK ABOUT US
Today was our first day back at school after the Christmas holidays.
We have school three days a week – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, in the living room. There are only two pupils – me and Felix. Felix doesn’t care about learning anything.
“What’s the point of being ill if you have to do maths?” he said, the first time he came to school at my house. Mrs Willis, who’s our teacher, didn’t argue. She doesn’t fuss if Felix doesn’t do any work. She just lets him sit there, leaning back in his chair and telling me what’s wrong with whatever I’m doing.
“That’s not how you spell ammonium! We never spelt ammonium like that at my school!”
“There’s a planet called Hercules – isn’t there, Mrs Willis?”
“What’re you doing that for?”
Felix only comes to school to see me and to give his mum a break.
Nowadays, Mrs Willis thinks up ploys to interest him. You know the sort of thing; making volcanoes that really erupt, cooking Roman food, making fire with a magnifying glass.
Only my mum didn’t like that one, because we accidentally burnt a hole in the dining table.
Sort of accidentally-on-purpose.
Today, though, Mrs Willis said, “How about you do some writing?” and we both groaned, because we’d been hoping for more fire, or possibly an explosion. Mrs Willis said, “Oh, come on, now. I thought you might like to write something about yourselves. I know you both like reading.”
Felix looked up. He was playing with two of my Warhammer orcs, advancing them on each other and going “Grrrrah!” under his breath.
Me and Felix are both experts at being in hospital. That’s where we met, last year.
I didn’t see what reading had to do with writing about me and I said, “Books are just about kids saving the world or getting beaten up at school. You wouldn’t write about us.”
“Maybe not you,” said Felix. He pressed his hand to his forehead and flopped back in his chair. “The tragic story of Sam McQueen. A poor, frail child! Struggling bravely through terrible suffering and hospitals with no televisions!”
I made vomiting noises. Felix stretched his hand – the one that wasn’t pressed to his forehead – out to me.
“Goodbye – goodbye – dear friends—” he said, and collapsed against his chair making choking sounds.
Mrs Willis said, “No dying at the table, Felix.” But you could tell she wasn’t really angry. She said, “I’d like you both to have a go now, please. Tell me something about yourself. You don’t have to write a whole book by lunchtime.”
So that’s what we’re doing. Well, I am. Felix isn’t doing it properly. He’s written: “My name is Felix Stranger and”, and then he stopped. Mrs Willis didn’t make him write any more. But I’m on page three already.
School’s nearly over now, anyway. It’s very quiet. Mrs Willis is pretending to do her marking and really reading 70 Things To Do With Fire under the table. Felix is leading my orcs in a stealth attack on the pot plant. Columbus, the cat, is watching with yellow eyes.
Next door, in the kitchen, Mum is stirring the soup, which is lunch. Dad is in Middlesbrough, being a solicitor. My sister Ella is at school. Real school. Thomas Street Primary.
Any minute now – there it is! There’s the doorbell. Felix’s mum is here. School is over.
WHY I LIKE FACTS
I like facts. I like knowing things. Grown-ups never understand this. You ask them something like, “Can I have a new bike for Christmas?” and they give you a waffly answer, like, “Why don’t you see how you feel nearer Christmas?” Or you might ask your doctor, “How long do I have to stay in hospital?” and he’ll say something like, “Let’s wait and see how you get on”, which is doctor-speak for “I don’t know”.
I don’t have to go into hospital ever again. Dr Bill promised. I have to go to clinic – that’s it. If I get really sick, I can stay at home.
That’s because I’m going to die.
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.
If I grow up, I’m going to be a scientist. Not the sort that mixes chemicals together, but the sort that investigates UFOs and ghosts and things like that. I’m going to go to haunted houses and do tests and prove whether or not poltergeists and aliens and Loch Ness monsters really exist. I’m very good at finding things out. I’m going to find out the answers to all the questions that nobody answers.
All of them.
My sister Ella went back to school today too. She and Mum had a huge fight this morning about it. She doesn’t get why I stay at home all day and she doesn’t.
“Sam doesn’t go to school!” she said to Mum. “You don’t go to work!”
“I have to look after Sam,” Mum said.
“You do not,” said Ella. “You just do ironing and plant things and talk to Granny.”
Which is true.
My mum named me Sam, after Samson in the Bible, and my dad named Ella after his aunt. If they’d talked to each other a bit more while they were doing it, they might not have ended up with kids called Sam ‘n’ Ella, but it’s too late to change that now. I think Dad thinks it’s funny, anyway.
Ella’s eight. She has dark hair and bright, greeny-brown eyes, like those healing stones you buy in hippie shops. No one else in my family cares what they look like. Granny goes round in trousers with patches and padded waistcoats with pockets for pencils and seed packets and train tickets. And Mum’s clothes are all about a hundred years old. But Ella always fusses about what she wears. She has a big box of nail varnish and all of Mum’s make-up because Mum hardly ever wears it.
“Why don’t you wear it?” says Ella. “Why?”
Ella always asks questions. Granny said she was born asking a question and it hasn’t been answered yet.
“Was I?” said Ella, when she heard this. “What was it?”
We all laughed.
“Where am I?” said Mum.
“Who’re these funny-looking people?” said Granny.
“What am I doing here?” said Dad. “I was supposed to be a princess!”
“Who’d make you a princess?” I said.
It’s afternoon now and I’m still writing. I bet I could write a book. Easy. I was going to do some more after Felix went, but Maureen from Mum’s church came round, so I had to be visited. She only left when Mum went to fetch Ella from school. I was thinking up “Questions Nobody Answers” at the dining table when they came back. Ella ran straight over to me.
“What are you doing?”
“School stuff,” I said. I curled my arm around the page. Ella came right up behind me and peered over my shoulder.
“Ella. I’m busy,” I said. It was the wrong thing to say. She tugged on my arm.
“Let me see!”
“Mum!” I wailed. “Ella won’t let me work!”
“Sam won’t let me see!”
Mum was on the phone. She came through with it pressed against her chest.
“Kids! Behave! Ella, leave your brother alone.”
I pulled a face at Ella. She flung herself on to the sofa.
“It’s not fair! You always let him win!”
Ella and Mum always fight. And Ella always says it’s not fair. I bet that’s the only reason I win, because I don’t throw baby tantrums like she does.
Mum put down the phone and went over to Ella. Ella shouted, “Go away!” and ran upstairs. Mum gave this big sigh. She came over to me. I closed my pad so she wouldn’t see the writing.
“Secret, is it?” she said.
“It’s for school.” I held my pen over the closed pad. Mum sighed. She kissed the top of my head and went upstairs after Ella.
I waited until I was quite sure she was gone, then I picked up my pen and started writing again.
HOW DO YOU KNOW
THAT YOU’VE DIED?
Today we had school again. I told Mrs Willis I was going to write a book.
“It’s about me,” I said. “But also it’s a scientific inquiry. I’ve done loads.” And I showed her my first “Question Nobody Answers”.
“Very commendable,” she said. “How exactly are you going to find the answers to these things?”
“I’m going to look them up on the Internet,” I said.
You can find out anything on the Internet.
Mrs Willis let me and Felix look up how you know that you’ve died today. We had to bring Dad’s laptop down from the study, because Felix has a wheelchair at the moment. When I first met him he was only in it some of the time, but he’s almost always in it now. He can walk really. He just likes having people wait on him.
We started with www.ask.com and ended up with this website on near-death experiences. A near-death experience is when someone almost dies but changes their mind at the last minute and comes back. The website said this happens to five per cent of adult Americans.
“So they say,” said Felix.
All sorts of things happened to these people, according to the website. They went down dark tunnels. They saw bright lights and angels. Sometimes they floated over their body and saw their doctors talking about them or giving them electric shocks. It was exactly the sort of science I want to do. I thought it was brilliant. Felix didn’t.
“It’s not real,” he said. “How can everyone see angels? What about serial killers?”
Near-Death Experiences – Against
by Felix Stranger
Near-death experiences aren’t actual death
experiences because people don’t actually die.
They’re just people’s brains going funny because
they haven’t had enough oxygen or are on weird
drugs. If they’re real, then why do different things
happen to different people? And why do only good
things happen? Why don’t people get devils or
something? Also, it’s the sort of thing people make
up to get attention. Like crop circles. Everyone
thought they were made by spaceships, but
actually it was just farmers with lawnmowers
trying to be famous.
He was the cynical public. I was the groundbreaking scientist, so I did “For”.
Near-Death Experiences – For
by Sam McQueen
Near-death experiences have been happening since
Plato, who lived thousands of years ago. We know
because he wrote about them. In a near-death
experience, the person actually dies. And then
comes back. So obviously what happens to them is
real. Also, they see real things. For example, one
woman was floating on the ceiling and she heard
her doctors saying all this stuff which she found
out later that they’d actually said. Only she
couldn’t have known about it because she was
dead at the time. And bad things do happen to
people sometimes. One guy had elves poking him
Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls / Young Adult / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes