I Want to Live

Book review by
P. J. Nunn, Common Sense Media
I Want to Live Book Poster Image
Emotional story shows what kids with cancer face.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

One attempt at rebellious behavior.


One life-threatening scene toward the end of the book builds suspense, but is resolved positively. A young teen faces leukemia and the possibility of death.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Want to Live is about a teen girl with cancer who's last hope is a bone marrow transplant. It focuses on disease and death, so you may want to read it together so that you can answer any questions as they arise.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynoelani r. October 27, 2013

Great book

I started reading this book( which is based of a series)when I was in middle/ high school. I fell in love with the authors stories of how all these characters s... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 and 14-year-old Written bymy3angels March 3, 2010
I fell in love with this book. Alot of people have to go through ordeals with sick children every day, take a drive to Vanderbilt Childrens's Hospital one... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 24, 2011

Perfect for any age that have an understanding for cancer

This is a awesome book. I love it. READ IT NOW
Teen, 15 years old Written bybrianafinnegan February 4, 2011

What's the story?

Dawn Rochelle's cancer has been in remission for almost a year. Her hair has grown back and she's struggling to find normalcy as she approaches high school. Things seem positive, but when she returns from camp, she's feeling tired and listless, and wondering why she's not excited about her brother's upcoming wedding. When the doctor informs her and her family that the cancer is no longer in remission, Dawn faces the biggest decision of her life. A bone marrow transplant is her only real chance at survival. Her brother Rob, the most likely donor, is getting married, and the timing will surely upset his wedding plans. Dawn fears she's not capable of making the right decision, but finally determines that she wants to live, whatever it takes. She faces her traumatic hospital experiences are traumatic with courage.

Is it any good?

This is a poignant tale of emotional upheaval, a straightforward story that may inspire compassion and understanding. Dawn is swept into the complications cancer has wrought on her life and confronts issues of peer acceptance and the tendency of even her close family members to treat her differently because of the disease. Her interlude of rebellious acting-out is short-lived, and could have been better drawn. Instead, it's shown as easily resolved and somewhat superficial. By the end of the book, readers should have a clear, if condensed, picture of what kids with cancer face.

While the writing is undeniably pulpy, it attempts to transmit positive, life-affirming values. I WANT TO LIVE may be helpful to those with friends or family members battling a similar situation, but it also be of interest to teens and preteens who simply like a tearjerker.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Dawn's struggles, both physical and emotional. How would you support her, if you were her friend or sibling?

Book details

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