Sea Legs

Sea Legs

For Ages: 10 - 14
  • 3
Eric and Clive's widowed dad is a steward on a cruise ship, and every time he goes away, the twins miss him terribly. Eric (older and considerably wiser than Clive by about five minutes) and Clive decide that this time will be different. When their father leaves for his latest cruise, they will go with him! Only Dad doesn't know yet, because Eric and Clive are going to be stowaways! How can their plan possibly fail? Okay, so Clive is a compulsive liar, with a tendency toward disastrous mishaps. It's worth the risk. All they have to do is keep out of Dad's way and stay out of trouble -- for three whole weeks...
  • Aladdin | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689871443 | 
  • October 2006 | 
  • Grades 5 - 9
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for This Is the Life includes an introduction and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


A “lovely, touching book” (Alexander McCall Smith) about two estranged brothers who come together when one of them discovers he has a brain tumor and the other assumes the role of his caretaker.

Inspired by Shearer’s experiences when his own brother was dying and written with a warm touch that is at once tender and achingly funny, This Is the Life is a moving testimony to both the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of the simpler things in life, like not taking a dying man’s teakettle away.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The novel’s title is taken from a conversation that the two brothers have while Louis is undergoing treatment for his cancer. What do both the narrator and Louis mean when they tell each other “this is the life”? Why do you think that Alex Shearer choose to title his novel This Is the Life?

2. The narrator remains unnamed throughout This Is the Life. What effect did this have on your reading of the book? Why do you think that Shearer decided not to name his narrator see more

About the Author

Alex Shearer
Photograph Courtesy of the Author

Alex Shearer

Alex Shearer is a television scriptwriter as well as the author of a number of books for children and teens. Before he was a published author, Mr. Shearer had more than thirty odd jobs, including working as a worm picker and a computer programmer. He lives with his wife and two children in Bristol, England.