The Voice

Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN-10: 0310230918
ISBN-13: 978-0310230915

About the Book

Pastor Paul Newcombe has all the answers-until his teenage daughter is stricken with a life-threatening disease. Together, he, his father and the rest of the family begin an unforgettable roller coaster of tears and laughter, heartache and joy, hope and fear. Through death-defying adventures with roller blades, stick shifts and food fights, Paul, his father and daughter forge new, life-affirming bonds.

Based on The Last Leaf, a short story by O.Henry, When the Last Leaf Falls is a celebration of family and faith filled with laughter and tears, and an unforgettable portrait of God’s unfailing love.

When the Last Leaf Falls Reviews

This wonderful novella by established Christian writer Myers (Eli) is a sweet and salty story of a pastor struggling to reconcile his faith with the possible loss of his daughter to cancer. The characters are convincing and deftly developed in a series of brief vignettes.
Publishers Weekly
Pastor Paul Newcombe’s life is a celebration of faith and family until his teenaged daughter Ally is stricken with cancer. As Ally lashes out at God for allowing her to fall ill and at her family because they are healthy, Paul’s faith is tested as it never has been before. Even Ally’s grandpa, Paul’s father, a retired pastor and artist, is unable to shake Ally out of her pessimistic certainty that she’ll die “when the last leaf falls” from the tree outside her window. Myers (Eli) closely follows the plot of O. Henry’s short story, “The Last Leaf,” in a touching tale of love and devotion interspersed with humorous anecdotes of a father watching his little girl grow up.
Library Journal
This book was amazing. It was not only enjoyable to read, it spoke to my heart, as though from God. As a pastor, I was stunned at the insight into the reality of being in a pastor’s family. Most of all, I was touched by the application of a very real God to our very real, though difficult, lives.
Bob Blackmore Berea

When the Last Leaf Falls

The phone had barely chirped before I had the receiver to my ear. “How is she?” I asked.

“They said . . .” Jen took an uneven breath and my heart stopped. I searched for the slightest clue in my wife’s voice, in the way she hesitated, in the way she breathed. Atlast, she spoke. “They said it’s going to be close. Her temperature is 106.”

The bottom dropped from my stomach. I sagged against the wall. “106?”

“They’ve attached several IVs and are administering the most potent antibiotics available.” Jen’s voice sounded detached, as if she were reciting dry, clinical facts—another little trick we’d learned to use over the past few months in order to survive. “They said . . .” She hesitated again. This one longer and more torturous than the first. “They said the next few hours will tell.”

I didn’t speak. I may have whispered a silent prayer, I don’t remember. I do remember taking a long, deep breath and trying to quiet my thoughts. So this was it. After all of these months of anguish and struggle . . . it finally came down to the next few hours, to some unknown infection that had crept in almost without our knowing.

“Paul? Are you there?”

My voice came back thick and husky. “Yeah.”<

“What about . . .Have you checked on . . .”

“The leaf?”

She said nothing. She didn’t have to. I was already standing at our daughter’s window. I’d pulled up the shade several minutes earlier. It was now five in the morning and the predicted storm, the one we’d been fearing, was in full force. Shadows from the streetlight danced crazily across the backyard as the bare branches of the old maple, the one between the house and the detached garage, whipped and slapped at each other. Through sheets of water sliding down the glass, I caught a glimpse of a yellow and blackened leaf. It stood stalwart in the blowing wind, clinging to a large branch that stretched out over the garage roof. It was the last leaf on the tree. And, as it had remained throughout the fall, the winter, and now in the approaching spring, it had become the symbol of our family’s hope . . . and of our fears.

“It’s still there,” I said.

I could practically hear her relief. “How are Sammy and Heather?”

“I got them back into bed and quieted down. They’re probably asleep by now.” I glanced at my watch. “I don’t know what’s taking Jeff so long; he should already be here. Maybe I’ll just pack them up and head on down to join—”

“No.” Jen’s voice was quiet but firm. “You know how Heather freaks in storms. If you’ve got them in bed, let them sleep. Just stay until Jeff shows up.”


“Please, Paul. It’ll only be a few minutes.”

I nodded. She was right. Sam and his little sister had been through enough already. They didn’t need any more panicked trips to the hospital, any more fears of seeing their big sister die. No, Ally’s sickness had robbed them of enough already. It had robbed us all. Besides stealing Ally’s leg, her hope for the future, and her faith in God, it had also destroyed Sammy and Heather’s innocence—their childhood belief that they would always be safe and secure. Practically every night now, six-year-old Heather finds some excuse to pad into our room and join us in bed. And eleven-year-old Sam? Well, his emotions are more hidden, but they are just as tattered.

I glanced back out Ally’s window. “You’ll let me know the slightest change?” I asked.

“Of course.”

“And Jen?” I gave a quick swallow. “Let’s not stop praying. Whatever we do, let’s not give up now.”

She gave no response.


“I heard you,” she said. “I’ll do my best.”

“Me too.” I took a breath and quietly repeated. “Me too.”

There was a quiet click as she hung up. I followed suit more slowly.

Now I was alone in my seventeen-year-old’s bedroom. There was only the wind, the scratch of branches against the house, and the drumming rain—the perpetual, drumming rain. I’d called Jeff right after Jenny had left to follow the ambulance to the hospital. As an elder in my church and my closest friend, he and his wife were my first choice to come and stay with the kids. But the storm had obviously slowed them down—that and making those first couple calls to start up the church prayer chain. After all, it’s not every night the pastor’s firstborn has to fight for her life.

I closed my eyes. If only it was that simple. The real problem was she no longer wanted to fight. I dragged my hand across my face. My forehead was wet and cold, my jaw a stubble of two day’s growth.

“My God . . .” The groan surprised me, coming somewhere deep in my gut. When I opened my eyes I saw I was looking across the room at the top of Ally’s dresser. Much of the white pine was dominated by a CD boombox. The rest was cluttered with ceramic knickknacks, makeup, bracelets, a few leftover Beanie Babies from her younger days, a candle or two, a small vase of tiny red dried flowers, and photos of friends and family—even one of me standing with my arms wrapped around her on the beach back when we’d vacationed in Florida.

Above the clutter rose her mirror. The mirror that, a half year ago, had been plastered with cutout magazine photos of models and ballerinas. Models, because my child, like most teenagers, was the victim of gaunt, media role models, who stared at her accusingly for having the slightest trace of body fat or for actually enjoying a normal meal. How many times had I seen her deprive herself, insisting that a handful of carrot sticks actually filled her up, or watched her stew in guilt that she’d given in to temptation and “binged” on a whole side of fries? (What bitter irony this would become when, during the past few months, my Ally would have given anything to stop losing weight and to actually gain it.)

And the pictures of the ballerinas? They’d been on the mirror because, for as long as I can remember, my little girl had wanted to be a dancer.

Excerpted from:
When the Last Leaf Falls by Bill Myers
Copyright 2001, Zondervan Publishing.
All rights reserved.