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3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  807 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Sunshine is about a young woman with terminal cancer and was based upon a true story, taken from the young woman's tape-recorded diary.
Paperback, 223 pages
Published 1974 by Avon
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Community Reviews

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Lisa Vegan
Jun 07, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young people, those who like to read stories about people with cancer
Yes, it’s schmaltz, no, it’s not great literature, but I was captivated by this story of a very young mother battling cancer. Ok, I read it when I was close in age to the main protagonist, and it was a long time ago, and I am fascinated by stories of people with cancer, but I would still recommend it. I reread it several times, and I would bet it holds up ok.
Jan 25, 2008 Suezq rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
I was 12 when i read this and loved that there were a few swear words. I felt so grown up. This story made me feel compassion for others, and gave me an understanding of love, illness, and friendship and family. perfect bridge from childhood to teens.
Apr 27, 2016 Leslie added it
“…the tender, fleeting moments of a girl who watches her life ebb away, knowing that she must taste of life, love and happiness for the last time.” – Copy from the back of Sunshine

This is another relic from my girlhood of angst. I spoke to my mom about this book recently and I was surprised to hear what a smash hit the made-for-TV movie was in her college years. She reminisced, recalling John Denver’s Sunshine on my Shoulders and the dreamy love interest Sam. A little online research yielded tha
Oct 28, 2009 Casey rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-09
My mom shared this book with me when I was about 13, it is one of the only books I really remember from my younger years. I remember how much I loved it then, I plan to read it again soon.
Nov 30, 2009 Kara rated it it was ok
Shelves: teenage, heartstrings
I just re read this and it is kind of bad. I realized that this book was based on the TV movie that I remember so well, not the other way around. it does not do justice to the real life story at all. The writing is spare and dull. Norma Klein does not give this heartbreaking and special story any more care than one of her lesser teen novels.

It's an interesting and tragic story about a young single mother who develops terminal cancer. The thing that is so profoundly sad about this story is how Ka
Dec 23, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
I read this book and other Norma Klein schmaltz over and over again as a teen in the 70s. Just the kind of tearjerking angst you love at that age, and I can still quite whole scenes from it by memory. Watched the short lived TV show too...
Mar 21, 2010 Kathy rated it liked it
Oh, I remember reading this and Eric and Love Story and crying and crying. I started with 2 stars (it is okay), but the truth was I liked it. Actually, ala Sally Field, I liked it, I really liked it.
Jun 11, 2011 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I grabbed this book off the shelf at my library in school...I think it was late middle school. It was the first book I remember reading and the first book that ever made me cry. I love this book. I was probably too young to appreciate it at the time, but this book turned me on to reading. I had no clue to was ever a movie until I saw the review. Awesome!!
Ann Marie
I read this book a few years after it was published. I think I was probably in eighth grade. And I obviously came away with something totally different from this book than most of the other reviewers did. Maybe I'm heartless but I had (and still have) no sympathy for a mom who would rather die than have her leg amputated. She would rather leave her words behind for her young daughter instead of being around to watch her grow up. Turns out nothing has changed in the past thirty years, except that ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: my-teenage-years
It gets an extra star out of nostalgia for how much my teenage self romanticized the movie and loved the John Denver songs in it. I've grown up and had a daughter of my own. Result? I understand why my grade 8 teacher reacted so negatively when she saw the movie on TV. Get your leg amputated and be there while your daughter grows up!
Michelle Bacon
May 29, 2015 Michelle Bacon rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Katherine Hayden is dying. She's a single mother of 19-years-old with a worrisome lump on her leg. One doctor tells her it's because of all the weight she had on them from being pregnant. She goes to get another opinion and discovers her lump is actually bone cancer. She moves to Vancouver with her soon-to-be husband (her second husband!) and her baby, Jill, to be closer to the treatment center. She tries out several different treatments but refuses to have her leg amputated because she doesn't ...more
Dara Barrett squires
Dec 14, 2012 Dara Barrett squires rated it it was ok
It's got a hook and if, like me, you're interested in women's autobiography you'll find something here. But its a clunky read, more of a diary than an autobiography and without interest in the subject matter or genre you won't appreciate it.
Jun 27, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing
I think those who reacted negatively to this book don't understand osteosarcoma. By the time it is found in the leg, it has most likely metastisized. Meaning she would have gone through the surgery and died just a few months later. And this was back in the 60's and 70's. So she spent quality time with her daughter. I absolutely adored this book when I read it in high school and also remember the movie.
There was also some type of follow up I remember where I saw real pictures of the husband and
Jul 18, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I can't remember if I saw the movie or not. I read this when I was in high school and I loved it at the time. I cried and cried and that was part of the appeal. It was all the tragic drama that you can't get enough of at that age. I haven't reread it because I haven't wanted to spoil the way I remember it. I think so much has changed both in me and my outlook (as now someone who is in my mid-40's), the world in general, the way we think about and can deal aggressively with cancer and our expecta ...more
Sep 14, 2012 Jasmine rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. It's both a snapshot of a time in history( Norma Klein is amazing at that) and a deeply moving story about a specific woman. The protagonist is 19 going on 20, she has a baby and...I won't spoil the rest, I just can't but it's just so full of kindness, goodness and bohemian sensibility and human beings just struggling along being human beings. Try to get a musty copy at a garage sale, this particular copy with the peephole black cover really ads something to the reading experi ...more
Oct 24, 2012 Kristal is currently reading it
This book is about a young girl that has a baby and is in loved but she also is dying. She had bone cancer but she did not know about it until it was spread because the town doctor was not fully experienced and he would always make up things just so she can stay calm. I really loved this book because it shows how a woman can be so strong, have time for her baby and still have fun with her young husband.
Arlene Allen
Oct 08, 2012 Arlene Allen rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adults
Norma Klein was the be all and end all teen author of the 70's, right up there with Judy Blume. I read this until it fell apart. Probably the inspiration for Lurlene McDaniel!
Nov 12, 2012 Lori rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-fiction

I remember watching the made-for-television movie about this story.

I was 8. I cannot imagine why I was allowed to watch a movie about a young mother facing a deadly illness but back then I was also allowed to leave in the morning on my bike, with no helmet, with instructions to be back by there you have it.

This book was based on the movie which was based on the true story of Jacquelyn Helton and much like Love Story by Erich Segal it is sad and tragic and brave. But like someone impo
Jan 19, 2013 Aime rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Parents, teenagers
Recommended to Aime by: No one just a library book
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2014 Rhonda rated it liked it
Looking at the picture of the front cover takes me back to my teens. This was mandatory reading for teen aged girls in the 70's. Would have had around 8,000 reviews on Amazon if such a thing existed. Little sentimental for me but all my friends LOVED it.
Leslie Uribe
Feb 24, 2014 Leslie Uribe rated it it was amazing
Sunshine is a very touching story about a young girl who got married at a very young age. A girl who is curious, and a happy person with her little baby girl Jill. A true story about a girl who's life ended at the age of 20 years old who watches her life ebb away knowing that she must taste of life love and happiness for the last time, especially with her daughter.

I recommend this book to everybody because its a heart touching story. I loved this story alot. Sunshine is the meaning of the girl
Heather Puckett
Sep 01, 2014 Heather Puckett rated it it was amazing
I read this book over and over again as a tween. An incredibly powerful story that has stuck with me even into adulthood.
Oct 21, 2014 Zoe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blast-from-past
This book made a big impact on me when it was read aloud to us as campers of Cabin 9 (or Cabin 10?) at Camp Wapalanne in the 1970s. In a weird way it has stayed with me this whole time, and I still find myself comparing various situations to the one in the book. In the story, the woman decides she'd rather die of cancer than live without a leg. At least that's what I remember. As a kid I thought I'd DEFINITELY prefer living with one leg, especially if I was in love and had a child. I couldn't be ...more
Jane Glossil
Jun 13, 2015 Jane Glossil rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is one of the most memorable books I've read in highschool. I remember I would spend longer hours in our school library just to finish this book, while mustering all my will to hold back my tears. I copied every line, every poem I liked in my trusted notebook of quotes, which I just recently stumbled upon. I would reread this book when I can. Here's to hoping I could find my own copy, perhaps from Booksale. ;)
Mar 27, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
Very moving story of a young mother learning she has bone cancer in the days when effective treatments were almost nonexistent. I can still remember passages of this book word for word, after reading it once, 30 years ago. In an era when every made-for-TV movie and true-life account in the bookstore seemed to be about someone dying of cancer, this one still head and shoulders above most of the others.
Zachary Littrell
Jun 18, 2016 Zachary Littrell rated it did not like it
At first, I was afraid Sunshine would be so sweet and maudlin about the tragedy I would get a cavity. And indeed, there's a lot of saccharine sentiments flowing around protagonist Kate, like a cringe-inducing metaphor about making love while pregnant involving the child. But then the book took a very unpleasant turn, and it wasn't the discovery of cancer.; it was the unwelcomed reveal that every single character in this book is a real piece of work.

(I should mention that this book is based on a
Amy Rae
Oct 22, 2016 Amy Rae rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I've put off and put off reviewing this, because it was both fascinating and moving--and it's so hard to explain just why I was so fucking delighted by it. But I'm going to try.

For me, Sunshine is like if Go Ask Alice was a good book. It's a novel based on the writing of a young woman who dies under extraordinary circumstances. The difference is that Sunshine takes on bone cancer rather than drugs, and it's actually based on a real person's life. At this point, the truthiness of Alice appears to
Sally Boocock
Aug 04, 2016 Sally Boocock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an old book but just as moving second time around even more so because it's based on a true life.
Aug 15, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing
I am guessing I read this book when I was about 12. I absolutely loved it. It was the year I decided I wanted to be a poet and move to the Rocky Mountains and live a life like Jacquelyn - simple, pure, true. Except I did not want to die from cancer at 20 years old. I just wanted to live in the sunshine and have someone love me like Sam loved her.

It moved me powerfully, Jacquelyn's story, and I pushed it on all of my friends. My best friend from high school claims even to this day that it remains
Kim Galor
Aug 30, 2016 Kim Galor rated it it was amazing
I list this book for a few reasons:
1. I can't believe how young I was when I read it. A lofty topic.
2. It impacted me so much and I realize that it was 50% the actual story and 50% Klein's talent.
3. The book is outstanding.
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Norma Klein was born in New York City and graduated cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College with a degree in Russian. She later received her master's degree in Slavic languages from Columbia University.

Ms. Klein began publishing short stories while attending Barnard and since then she had written novels for readers of all ages. The author got her ideas from everyday life
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“Dying is beautiful- even the first time around, at the ripe old age of 20. It’s not easy most of the time, but there is real beauty to be found in knowing that your end is going to catch up with you faster than you had expected, and that you have to get all your loving and laughing and crying done as soon as you can.” 4 likes
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