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. zaina
    January 17, 2010 @ 4:30 am

    wow!!!! i LUV this book!!! it really touches my heart and it becomr my number 1 fav book!!!! it only took me 4 hours to read this book!! ive nevr heard of sally nicholls before then my friends started telling me this such a good book!!! i read it and i LUVED it!!!!! i hope i like ur next book!!! thx for writing this book soooooo much!!!! i cant wait for ur next book!!! lol!


  2. Gabby
    January 15, 2010 @ 1:45 am

    This is my very favorite book I’ve ever read! I’m very excited for Seasons of Secrets, the movie and the possible book threes. I don’t think I’ve read a story that moved me so much, and had such an impact on me. This book is really sad, but at the same time uplifting. It’s funny and moving and made me cry through laughs. Good luck on your next books!


  3. dallas bennett
    January 14, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    i read this book not intentionally but it is the best book i have ever read!!!!t is now my favorite book and it always will be! i was in the library one day and i picked 3 random books up and i read ways to live forever first and i couldnt let the book down so i was up until 3 in the morning reading and i love the book!!!! but sam dies 13days after my birthday. but i still really love this book 🙂


  4. Mcaye
    January 6, 2010 @ 3:58 am

    I got this book from a schoolastic book orders, by the way I am twelve years old. I read it for a reading project in my class and loved it. It made me feel sorry for Sam and happy for him. I absolutly enjoyed reading this book. I can’t wait to read the other book Secrets something. I am excited. It is one of my favorite books, so read it too!!!!


  5. wolfgang welter
    January 2, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

    Dear Miss Nicholls.
    I’m a 66 years old german actor and supporting since many years the immense important work of the “German Children Hospiz Service”, in which lots of honorary people do a wonderful job.
    Your book”Ways to live forever” describes in a wonderful way the destiny of a child on his way to eternity.
    My question : I know, your book is published and translated in German and there also exists a CD – if it is possible for me to do a new recording on no-profit base for everybody in order to benefit with a small amount the people who does this wonderful job accompanying the kids and sisterkids and families.
    THanking you in advance
    I remain with best regards
    Wolfgang Welter


    December 23, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

    Ways to live forever is a book which have a way to create emotions forever.I’ve read it 10 times and soon 11th will be completed.Sally u & ur ideas are just beyond words.
    I n gonna read every book u will ever write
    With Best Wishes & Love


  7. Beatrice
    December 20, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

    heeej I really like the book it’s a really sad story about a little boy. I finished reading it in two days normally I need one week for a english book. I will recommend it to all my friends an I also wou´ld make a speech about this book at school. I hope I will get a good grade at it ;).

    I think I will read the book a second time because it is so amazing.

    All the best.
    Beatrice (16), from Austria (Vienna)


  8. Shamsul Alam
    December 11, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

    I am really fascinated reading your book. Please write more books asap.
    All the best.
    Shamsul, London


  9. Joana
    December 1, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

    Hello, I’m from Portugal and here the translation of the book was quite different! ‘O menino que sonhava chegar à Lua’ (The boy who dreamed of getting to the Moon), I love this book, it is my favourite!


  10. Charlotte Mitchell
    November 21, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    Hi, I got given a signed copy of this book from my dad & really enjoyed it,

    can’t wait to read season of secrets- is it true that it’s being made into a film?



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