The Last Leaves Falling

Sarah Benwell. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4814-3065-4
A Kyoto teenager diagnosed with ALS connects with two new friends and weighs how to approach his imminent death from the neurological disease in Benwell’s resonant debut. Benwell laces her story with references to the evanescent and ephemeral: the fleeting fame of a popular band, the changing colors of autumn leaves, and the stars in the night sky (“So many of them will be burnt and gone before we even notice them,” Sora’s grandfather tells him during a visit in the countryside). Sora, with a heightened awareness of his mortality, notices them, and readers will, too. Sora’s fears of losing control of his degrading body and the burden he is placing on his single mother are equally evident in his measured, even cerebral narration; his relationship with his devoted mother, who can barely discuss Sora’s condition with him, is one of the novel’s most tender threads, along with Sora’s mutually rewarding new friendship with Kaito and Mai. It’s a memorable and haunting story of a boy’s determination to seize control of the limited time he has left. Ages 14–up. Agent: Gill McLay, Bath Literary Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2015
Release date: 06/02/2015
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-1680-4
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4814-3066-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-4914-4
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