The Last Leaves Falling

Finished The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

And these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.”

I don’t know that much about ALS, although the little I do know (and what I’ve learned from this book) is completely horrifying.  The idea of being trapped in your body and losing control over your movement by inches is so scary and so sad.

It’s especially sad in this case; Sora is a teenage boy who’s facing (a) a rare disease and (b) one that generally targets people who are much older than he is.

Not surprisingly, his life soon becomes very small: his home, with his mom and his books.

And then, on impulse, he finds an internet chat room.  Initially, he keeps his diagnosis secret but soon finds a few close friends…and even though no one can fully understand what he’s going through, it helps him so much to have a bigger sense of community.

I can’t even talk about this book like a normal person.  I love the fact that it’s set in Japan and how Sora sees himself as sort of a modern-day Samurai (ALS is starting to affect his body and he feels, in some ways, like he is also facing a life of dishonor as he starts to decline a little bit).

I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so read this.  Yes, it’s sad—but it’s also about friendship and the connections we forge with other people.

Highly recommended.

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