Ways to Live Forever

ways to live forever

ExtractSam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl.

And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer.

My name is Sam. I am eleven years old. I collect stories and fantastic facts. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

True Facts About Ways to Live Forever


I really did run up down escalators when I was writing this book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages and I thought, if Sam can do it, so can I. I did it in the same place Sam does – at the Cornmill Centre in Darlington.



The chapter Visits is based on something my mother did after I was diagnosed with diabetes as a child. It was supposed to be a funny scene – but it didn’t turn out that way when I wrote it.



I deleted over 20,000 words while writing this book (the finished novel is around 32,000 words long). Some of the scenes I deleted include a list of famous last words, a description of how a dead body decomposes and a scene where Sam and Felix try and break their world record by dropping water bombs on Sam’s dad.


There are a few real names and places in this book. Auntie Nicola, Auntie Sarah and Auntie Carolyn are named after friends of mine, as is Raoul, the airship pilot. Stanley Rhode (the airship captain) gets his name from Stanley Road, the street I lived on at university. My friends and I always meant to put Stanley Rhode into one of our essays but never did, so I put him in the book instead. High Strawberry – on Sam’s list of favourite things – is also a real place. We used to stay there when I was a child.


The first words I wrote when I began this book were:

pen Paper

List No. 1 – Five Important Facts About Me

1. My name is David Oliver Robinson.

2. I am eleven years, two months and seven days old.

3. I have one sister. Her name is Katherine Anne Robinson and she is nine years old.

4. I have acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

5. By the time you read this, I will already be dead.

Reviews of Ways to Live Forever

“impressed by Sally Nicholls’ sensitive handling of terminal illness in Ways to Live Forever”

Mal Peet, The Guardian

“Sympathetic, touching, and surprisingly funny…”


“Sally Nicholls has precisely captured the contents of an 11-year-old boy’s head in all its humorous, list-making splendour.” 

Junior Education Plus


  1. Jasmine Anais Santiago
    November 21, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

    i have actually cried while reading this book. it is very sad.every time i start reading this book i just can’t ever seem to put it back down. i will always remember this most awesome book.


  2. Ashley Marie Harville
    November 20, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

    i have not cried in this book but it is very sad. i love this book so much it’s the best; i just can’t ever put this book down, its awesome.!


  3. Jasmine Anais Receveur
    November 20, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

    i have cried sometimes while reading this book. every time i have this book in my hands i just can’t seem to put the book down. this book is the best book i have ever read.!


  4. Jasmine Anais Receveur
    November 20, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

    I’m only like half way through the book. it is very sad. i have cried sometimes while reading this book. every time i have this book in my hands i just can’t seem to put the book down. this book is the best book i have ever read.!


  5. Jessica
    November 13, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    I love this book so much, but i lost it yesterday =[ forgot where i put it


  6. Andressa Maciel
    November 4, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

    Maravilhoso este livro, Parabéns pelo trabalho.


  7. Kieran
    October 7, 2009 @ 3:40 am

    This is truely one of the best books i have picked up. I reccommended it to all of my friends, I enjoyed reading it. It is very real; it made me laugh and cry(especially the end i cried for like twenty minutes). I loved every momment of it though, hope to read more!


  8. Nicole
    October 3, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

    I love the book. Just finished it on Friday. The book is awesome. I love the bit when Sam kisses the girl and i was almost in tears when felix died. xoxo lol


  9. Harvey
    September 19, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

    This book really touched me. As a 12 year old myself I could relate to Sam and the ending broke my heart


  10. Anita
    August 28, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

    wow, this book is really great!!. the story in this book is really touch my heart!!!


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