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I cannot mourn, for I have lived a life of mountain air and cherry blossoms, steel, and honour. An achingly beautiful story of courage, loss and friendship.

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.


The Last Leaves Falling is a complex book that tells the story through a mixture of recollections, website message boards, text messages, emojis and old-fashioned letters. We feel the pain as we see what this fatal illness means for the boy and for those he loves. The story, set in an accessible modern Japan, is about life and death. It's also about the power of friendship and connection - 5* review.

Daily Telegraph, 'The Best Young Adult Books of 2015'

An excellent debut set in Kyoto telling the story of 17-year-old Sora. He turns to ancient Samurai wisdom for advice - and finds himself dealing with a dark corner of the internet. For fans of Khaled Hosseini.

Red Magazine

Benwell’s deeply moving story is psychologically acute in its portrayal of a dying teen and his loyal friends. Its shattering ending is sure to engender discussion among readers.

Booklist (Starred review)

Deeply emotional and poignant, handling difficult themes with great sensitivity and without being sentimental. Beautifully written, heartbreaking and hopeful.

The Bookseller

[A] heart-breaking, unsentimental debut


Stunningly powerful, it's a book which will surely get everyone talking about it. It left me in tears. Hugely recommended; I would expect this to be a strong contender for prizes

The Bookbag

Very occasionally I read a book that I so utterly and completely fall in love with that when it comes to writing my review all I have is a long list of words such as; beautiful, stunning, magnificent, breath-taking, amazing, fantastic, marvellous and perfect. This is one of those books . . . Read it.

Luna's Little Library

LAST LEAVES is a remarkable debut novel. From its setting through to its characters, I was hooked from the very first page. Sarah's writing is beautiful and incredibly powerful. I was left thoughtful, and with great hope, which is exactly what a book should do!

John McLay, International Literary Scout

I am in awe of Sarah Benwell’s writing talent. This book is beautifully written and emotionally charged. I defy anyone to read it and not be touched with emotion

Serendipity Reviews

A formidable tear-jerker

Thirst for Fiction

If you only read one book this year, let it be this one.

Review Diaries

The Last Leaves Falling is likely going to blow your mind. Please, if you buy one book this month, buy this one. You won't be disappointed.


The Last Leaves Falling is just a truly beautiful and touching book, with fantastically diverse characters and elements. As ordinary as Benwell’s novel is, it’s also extraordinary in some respects and there’s a perfect balance here. With any novel of this nature, some tears are inevitable, what I couldn’t have foreseen was how Sarah made me smile through my tears.


I am absolutely recommending this book as a brilliant and beautiful – if not always emotionally easy – read

hearthfire blog

This incredible debut novel is brave, unflinching and beautiful from first page to last . . . A stunning novel from a new voice in Benwell that more than deserves a place alongside award winners such as A Monster Calls. Fans of Ned Vizzini, Siobhan Dowd, Sally Gardner and Patrick Ness, take note.


The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell is a beautifully-written debut book. It made me happy and sad and hopeful all at the same time. It's an absolutely incredible story and I definitely do hope that you'll pick it up and fall in love with this story, these characters and their relationships just like I did. I really can't say enough positive things about this gorgeous book!


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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 2, 2015


    352 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    January 29, 2015

    RHCP Digital

    352 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au


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