Title- The Last Leaves Falling.
Author- Sarah Benwell.
Publish date- 2nd February, 2015.
Publisher- Random House.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)
(A Brief) Synopsis:
Sora has ALS and he feels his world shrinking, with each day and each movement he struggles to do on his own. His mind is full of thoughts and fears and questions, and no one can answer them, it seems. And answers are what he needs the most.
Thank you to Random House Australia for this review copy!
Image Source: Random House.
What I thought:
The Last Leaves Falling was for me a beautiful book, though I don't think I realised this until it no longer was; it is a story that is gloriously sweet yet terribly bitter, strained and heartfelt and powerful, and tough I only moderately enjoyed it to begin with, I realised how much I had enjoyed it only when it was much too late.
The novel tells the story of Sora, a teenager who has Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Louie Gehrig disease, and the frinds he finds, the thoughts and fears he has, and the adventures he is part of as it progresses. The pain felt by Sora felt real, his anguish and frustrations and pain, all so palpable and true, and Sarah Benwell crafted a story that, though a huge element of it was this teenage boy's pained struggle, is striking in the way it so often exudes happiness. Scenes with icecream made me smile and outing to giant karp pools made me feel glad, with such a feeling of "spend your time in a way you will remember gladly" coming from the whole thing.
Inevitably this is not going to be a book that was overwhelmingly happy- it's about a boy who is dying, painfully and with visible progression- but it had gladness to it. Promise and happiness.
I try to remember the things that made me like it: the sweet friendship Sora finds, the subtle romance, the thoughts and questions that the characters had thsat, some, seeped into me, and the wonderful, distinct setting of the book- Japan- that opened my eyes and swept me up, but in the end it is... difficult. Because I found the ending totally... unforgivable? I don't quite know. I certainly didn't agree with it, hardly even understood it, and... maybe I am not one who should speak about such things, not knowing the true pain and struggle of someone facing this disease, but this is a novel. And I am angry. I am mad at Sora. At all of it. The things that happened in the last pages were alienated from the characters I had read about for 330 pages, so void of... what I thought I knew of them.
So only too late did I see how much I'd been enjoying this. And... I don't know if I can get back to that.
Rating: Ooh very good-oh nooo-this is the worst possible time for an explosion.
So good, for 3/4, but the end just... was not for me. It left me without all that I had felt for the book, and I'm really quite angry, now.