Shawn Bonenberger was nine when he was diagnosed as having rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and ""aggressive"" form of cancer which took his life eleven months later. This is a fond, if initially distanced, account of those months by a family friend and the family pastor. Shawn was indeed a special case: early in the ordeal, his parents were told by a sympathetic nurse that ""the child would lead them""; and that is in fact what happened. Shawn was given almost all the significant details of his illness and treatment, and often helped make decisions. When it became clear that continued chemotherapy was unlikely to produce a cure, and could only prolong his suffering, it was Shawn who made the decision to return home and live out his remaining days without drugs and debilitation. The family had strong religious leanings, and Shawn depended heavily on that; he expected to see God in Heaven, which reconciled him to his fate. He recorded his views on tape to help others in the same situation, and died two weeks before Christmas nearly four years ago--not, unfortunately, a peaceful deathbed scene. His parents did not realize that the end was near, and they struggled with oxygen equipment, scolding him for his lack of cooperation, as he met the end with rising panic. But he comes across throughout as energetic, loving, intelligent, and wise beyond his years--which is probably the point. His parents have since divorced, and his younger brothers have dealt with his passing and survived. As one grandmother avers upon reading the manuscript, ""a sad story."" A life-affirming one in its way too, despite a certain stiffness in the telling.