THE LAST LEAVES FALLING by Sarah Benwell tells the story of an lonely teenager dealing with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Set in Japan, Sora becomes increasingly isolated as his ALS progresses. He seeks solace in friendships he forms online with people who see him as more than his disease. These friends are supportive as he contemplates his end of life choices.
Benwell does an excellent job moving between online conversations and short narrative segments. Her portrayal of a teenager with ALS is authentic, painful, and heart wrenching, yet this beautifully written book isn’t depressing.
Librarians will find readers among those who enjoy realistic stories about Internet friendships, acceptance, and disabilities. Keep in mind that the topic of assisted suicide is central to the story.
To learn more about ALS, go to http://www.alsa.org/
Published by Simon & Schuster, June 2015.