STARRED REVIEW
June 02, 2015

Confronting death

By Sarah Benwell
Review by

Seventeen-year-old Abe Sora wants to fit in—play baseball, complain about homework, worry about college. Unfortunately, he’s dying. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, but dying nonetheless. In The Last Leaves Falling, a debut novel set in Japan and written by Sarah Benwell, Abe has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and is slowing losing control of his body.

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Seventeen-year-old Abe Sora wants to fit in—play baseball, complain about homework, worry about college. Unfortunately, he’s dying. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, but dying nonetheless. In The Last Leaves Falling, a debut novel set in Japan and written by Sarah Benwell, Abe has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and is slowing losing control of his body. Isolated and succumbing to a disease that typically affects people three times his age, Abe turns to an Internet chat board to disconnect from his life—and ends up finding the one thing he was looking for.

Almost by accident, Abe becomes first virtual and then in-person friends with two very different people—MonkEC (Mai) and NoFace (Kaito). As the three grow closer together, Abe finds, for the first time since his diagnosis, friendship without pity. However, he also grows in his realization that his life is drawing to an end, and he wants that end to be on his own terms. For that, he will need to test the strength of the bonds of his friendship.

Beautifully and hauntingly written, The Last Leaves Falling seamlessly blends Samurai death poetry and Internet chat logs to create the immersive and heartbreaking story of a young man faced with an impossible choice. Readers will find themselves struggling along with Abe as he weighs a decision with no right answer and remembering him long after the last page.

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The Last Leaves Falling

The Last Leaves Falling

By Sarah Benwell
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781481430654

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