Review: The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Branwell

20743633The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Branwell
Published: January 29th 2015 by Definitions (Young Adult)
Pages: 320

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.
"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..."
Thank you Definitions (Youg Adult) for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

Actual rating: 2.5 stars

The Last Leaves Falling is a very unique novel. It stands out and because of that, caught my eye almost immediately. Reading a story about the life of a seventeen-year-old dealing with the Lou Gehrig's disease, is something special I've wanted to read ever since all the attention started coming up. So as original as this novel might be, it was never really my cup of tea.

First of all, there wasn't much connection or bonding between me and the main character, Sora. Or should I say, none at all. His life was devastating and heart-breaking, but it never touched me or made me pity him. The only characters I really felt with were his friends. I loved their aspirations, they chasing their dreams although they also have struggles of their own. They were much more interesting to getting to know than the protagonist himself, who was in my opinion just a really boring character. I will never understand how it's like to live with a disease like that, so I also will never be able to understand his motivations, his actions or his words. But for all I know, he wasn't a very interesting character to me.

The Last Leaves Falling book dealt with themes much too serious and much too dark for my liking. Do notice I like, even love, some darkness in a book every now and then. I love how authors can choose such difficult and serious subjects to focus their book on and do it right. I'm not saying this isn't the case here, because I know sure Branwell didn't write this book on a day. There are so many things that prove her research was done very well and she took a lot of time in making sure the ALS wasn't sugarcoated in her work. But despite it involving another disease and not something like cancer, it felt a lot of times like just another cancer story. Don't hate me for this, yet I really thing it did. I didn't have the feeling of reading something really different and outstanding, which resulted in reading several pages with not much interest.

The lack of connection with Sora as a character had much influence on the story itself. It wasn't as calamitous it first appeared to be. I also don't know why or how, but I thought it was straight-out depressing at times. There is a certain hidden theme in this book which I didn't expect to encounter, and was really surprised to see how much impact it had in the end. People who have read it will understand me when I speak of a scene in the book that was too much for me. As oversensitive as I already am, it went over the edge. I suddenly had a great dilemma whether to continue reading, because at that point I had no intention anymore to. I'm glad I did, simply because the ending has to be mu highlight of the entire novel. It was perfect. I didn't expect it at all to end in that way, but my feelings were all over the place.

All in all, my feelings about The Last Leaves Falling are very mixed. I'm still rather confused on what my exact opinion is, if I actually enjoyed it or not. There were so many disappointing aspects but also others I really liked. If you however, enjoy the premise of a book that deals with very harsh themes and if you're not a very sensitive person, I really think this book will turn you into a sobbing mess.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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