The Last Leaves Falling(Book Review)

“If I wanted to do something, a big life something- true love, ambitions,career choice- would you try to stop me?” She considers, and I do not think she’s going to answer me, but then: “I’d want the best for you, Sora. Every Mother does. And if your choices are not good ones, it is my job to see that you are steered right.” But how can she know what’s right? How can anybody know?”

The Last Leaves Falling- by Sarah Benwell

This exquisite novel is set in contemporary Japan and is focused on the heart-wrenching topic of coping with a terminal illness whilst being a teenager.



Young Sora must come to terms with the devastating revelation that he has ALS(Lou Gehrig’s Disease).   The Author deftly depicts the highs and lows of facing a terminal disease – and the extremely emotive topic of death and the afterlife. I felt that Ms. Benwell did justice to portraying this subject in a very comprehensive manner without being too sentimental.

I adored this thoughtful book- and highly recommend it for your summer reading list.  “The last leaves falling” explores the big topics of life- not shying away from the tricky subject of mortality- and even questioning the ethics of the hospice movement and palliative care.


As a Mother I appreciated the deft handling of Mother/Son relationships. Ms. Benwell  delicately portrays the complicated roller coaster of emotions faced by parents of teenagers – coping with online dating and issues regarding friendship and education.

This book will also be enjoyed by fans of Japanese culture. I loved the insights into life in modern day Japan-  the foods which are enjoyed, the daily life of students, and a gorgeous vignette- where Sora goes to visit with his grandparents in the countryside(a picturesque view of rural Japan which I loved). It was also fascinating to hear Benwell’s opinion on the enduring footprint of the samurai culture on young Japanese.


Superbly written – but do make sure you have plenty of tissues to hand – this is a tear jerker.IMG_1233

(Photos of the book are my own- Photos of Japan are taken from Google Images)



  1. Patricia Tilton · June 27, 2016

    This is my kind of story. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Glad to see it’s a YA book.


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