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Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsSherrard, Valerie
Series TitleBoardwalk Books
Number of Pages232
PublisherDundurn Group
ISBN Number1550024760
DescriptorsDeath; English Language; Illness; New Brunswick; Novel; Young Adult

This young adult novel by New Brunswick author Valerie Sherrard is set in 1962 in a small town. Kate is fourteen years old and suffering from terminal cancer. She isn't about to let this get to her, however, and does her best to live as a normal teenager. In the final months of her life, she befriends a young man who is in prison for robbery and inspires the town recluse to find joy in life again.


New Brunswick

Age Range


Author Profile: 

In this engaging first person narrative set in 1962, witty, spunky, and humourous fourteen-year-old Kate has an incurable brain tumour. She befriends Randy, a teen who was caught stealing and is imprisoned in the town jail. They bond over their shared love of reading and develop a romantic relationship. Kate learns that Randy stole to help his family’s financial situation. Over the course of the novel, Kate inspires various people in her town including Maryanne, the town recluse, who gains courage to reintegrate into society. Kate’s parents and younger brother must negotiate difficult feelings surrounding Kate’s impending death as they try to treat her as normally as possible while also cherishing her. In addition to her illness, Kate must face the difficulties of growing up, including conflict with her best friend and her burgeoning romance. As Kate’s illness progresses, her relationship with Randy deepens and she must gain the courage to tell him about her terminal condition. Kate’s illness prompts reflections and realizations that enable her to gain greater understanding of others and herself, helping her to come to terms with death and make the most out of the remainder of her life.


“I got over being mad at Randy half way home. Afterall, if you’re fourteen and dying, you’re bound to have figured out some things other people haven’t” (30).

“Oh, I guess I should have started off by telling you my name, although I really can’t see anyone sitting down and reading past an opening sentence like ‘My name is Marybelle-Anna’ Still, you need to call me something, don’t you? Well it’s not Marybelle-Anna, thank goodness for that one small favour in my life. Not being overrun by blessings, I can at least be grateful that my mother called me something sensible and solid, like Kate, which is my name.
There’s one other thing I should mention right off, which is that I’m fourteen years old and dying. (I guess that was two things, but the significance of one is sort of tied to the other, don’t you think?) I’m not telling you that to get your sympathy or anything, it just doesn’t seem the sort of thing you can bring up later on without it looking like you tried to pull a fast one by leaving it out at the start.” (9-10)