Sunshine by Norma Klein

sunshineAn oldie (first published in 1974, and now, sadly out of print) but still an amazingly effective weepie. Kate is a happy, hippie teenage mom back in the 70’s whose into peace, love and cute guitar players (like her adorable boyfriend Sam). He’s not the father of her sunny baby Jill, but he acts like it. Their lives are full of good friends, funny stories and songs, even though they’re super poor and Sam makes all their “bread” by playing in a bar. Then Kate falls down one day while giving Jill a bath–her leg just stops working. When she gets it checked out, she discovers she has a rare type of terminal bone cancer. Now Kate has a terrible decision to make–take brutal chemotherapy treatments that leave her nauseous and weak and may only extend her life by a few months, or ditch all the treatments and use the feel-good time she has left to be a real mom to her baby. Based on a true story of a young mother who used a tape player (pre-Camcorder-times) to record messages for her daughter to listen to after she was gone, Sunshine is one of my most favorite weepies ever because of Kate’s sincere, true voice and her Zen-like attitude about her own death. This is one I read over and over, wishing with all my heart that the ending were different. (4 weepies)

6 thoughts on “Sunshine by Norma Klein

  1. I love this book. Brings back such memories of the first few years I taught high school English. Glad to see an old title on your list. I am still teaching after 36 years but now not English but in the library and love to push my girls to read some of the old favs of mine like this one! Next to Love Story of the same era, it is very, very weepy!!!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out for Sunshine, Rachel. It really is such a great book, not only because of the topic, but because Norma Klein really nailed the voice. The only current book that rivals it is Before I Die by Jenny Downham.

  3. Well then, I’ll have to check this one out. The one that still always gets me is A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry. One of her first books, this teen tearjerker kept me bawling for hours.

  4. Oh, I agree–A Summer to Die is a prize weepie, I should include it on this list. Really 4 tissue-worthy!

  5. I just the book from the library today. It sounds amazing. Now, I just need to find the movie and I’ll be really happy.

  6. “Sunshine” and “A Summer to Die” were at the top of my list of comfort reads (weird, I know) in middle school. Another one that goes along nicely with these is Madeline L’ Engle’s “A Ring of Endless Light.”

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