Laura Sobiech is the author of “Clouds: A Memoir,” a book that chronicles the final year of her son Zach’s life before he passed away from osteosarcoma in 2013. Her book has been adapted to the big screen in “Clouds,” an original movie streaming on Disney+. Fin Argus will play Zach Sobiech, and Neve Campbell will play Laura Sobiech.
"Clouds: A Memoir" by Laura Sobiech. Fin Argus, who plays Zach in "Clouds," is featured on the book cover.
When Laura Sobiech’s 14-year-old son Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a deadly bone cancer, she decided to start a blog. At first, it was to keep family and friends updated on how Zach was doing as he underwent intense cancer treatment. But when she found out Zach’s cancer was terminal in 2012, it became a place to store precious memories for later, memories that would help her get through days where she knew she’d miss Zach.
She never imagined that just three weeks after Zach passed away, she would be asked to turn that blog into a book about the final year of her son’s life, a life he lived to the fullest while knowing he was dying.
We asked Laura Sobiech a few questions about her book, “Clouds: A Memoir,” writing while grieving and sharing her family’s faith with the world.
When did you decide you wanted to write about your family’s experience for a book?
A friend’s agent had been reading my blog for months and following Zach’s story, and she asked if I’d be interested in writing a book. I knew I wanted to write about it, but a book sounded so intimidating… but I decided to follow Zach’s lead and say yes to opportunities that came my way. That’s what he always did in the last year of his life – say yes to things – even when it was scary. So I said yes.
What was it like, emotionally, to revisit so many of your memories of Zach while you were still early in the grieving process?
It really was agony. There were lots of tears, but it was also really good timing because I was writing right after Zach died so everything was still so fresh. Strangely, the hardest parts to write were the happy parts, I think because I was still early in the grieving process, so I wasn’t really there emotionally. It’s hard to write about times when you were happy and laughing while you’re so far from that place emotionally.
What scenes in the book were the most important for you to get right?
The one I really wrestled with was the chapter about the morning Zach died. I had to decide if that would be too much for people, to describe it how it really happened. Ultimately, I decided that if the reader had followed me all the way to that point, they deserved to be there with us at that moment. That chapter just flowed right out of me, because I was still waking up thinking about that morning every single day. I was still right in that emotional space.
What moments made you feel particularly vulnerable to write about?
Writing about the week before Zach died was really strange. In the book, I talk about how waiting for Zach to die felt like being nine months pregnant – you’re scared and just kind of pacing, waiting for this big, painful thing to happen. You know it’s coming, but you have no idea what life is going to be like after. I was worried that was going to come off as too weird to people, which is understandable… How is waiting for your child to die like being pregnant? But I think for anyone writing a memoir, it’s going to fall flat unless you share those parts in your own way, even if you’re worried that people might not understand.
“Clouds: A Memoir,” you talk about some difficult moments you had with your husband, Rob, and your other kids. How much of the book did they get to see before it was published?
They got to read it before everyone else, but nobody in my family read any of the book before it was final. I know that was scary for them, because we had some difficult conversations during that last year of Zach’s life… we weren’t perfect, we clashed. It was a little tense sometimes, and it got a little ugly. But we talked about how important it was to be real, because the purpose of the book was for people to see the hardship and to see that even as imperfect people, we got through this. They had to trust me to tell their story from my perspective, and to their credit, it took a lot of courage for them to trust me with that.
“Clouds: A Memoir” has been taught in several schools now and has been a popular book club book – what parts have you seen stand out most to readers?
With kids, they always want to know more about Zach, what kinds of things he liked, how he moved through the world – I think they relate to him. With other readers, they definitely wrestle with the scene where Rob and I talk about what we’d do if Zach was dying on the day of our oldest daughter Alli’s wedding. We knew those two things were going to happen close to each other, and we had to decide if they were happening at the same time, where did we need to be? And we chose Alli’s wedding. People really have a hard time with us deciding that. But Zach didn’t want us to miss the wedding; it was important to him that his sister have her day. And, while the thought of being away from Zach was gut-wrenching, WE wanted Alli to have her day too – we wanted to have the memory of her parents at her wedding to carry into her future. I wrote about that because I wanted people to understand… that’s the kind of thing we had to sit down and decide, we didn’t have the privilege of not making that decision. (Zach died 11 days before Alli’s wedding, and Laura and Rob were there for both.)
You talk a lot about your Catholic faith in the book. Why was that an important component to include for you?
That’s what got us through it. I include that piece because I want people who are just like us, everyday, average, normal people with no extraordinary gifts, to look at us and see people who have gone through really hard things and survived them. I was certain that I was not going to survive losing a child, but I survived it, not because of anything special about me, but by God’s grace. Plus, I love that when it comes to faith, I have some “street cred” now… I can talk about faith and people actually listen. I’ve put that faith muscle into action, and it works. I pray for thick skin all the time, and sometimes I still feel like tissue paper, but I rely on God’s grace to be ok with feeling that way because it allows me another level of empathy. My point of putting any of this out there is that if I can touch one life, if I can help one person in the way that Zach helped so many, I’m happy.
“Clouds: A Memoir” is available by pre-order now on Amazon. “Clouds” the movie is available to stream now on Disney+.
Background. At age 14, Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that mostly affects children. In May 2012, Sobiech's doctors informed him that he had up to a year to live. Sobiech recorded the song "Clouds" about his battle with cancer.What kind of cancer did Zach Sobiech have? ›
In October 2020, Disney+ released the movie “Clouds,” an inspiring film about teenage songwriter Zach Sobiech who rose to fame before passing away from osteosarcoma, a deadly bone cancer, in 2013. The movie, directed by Justin Baldoni, chronicles Zach's senior year of high school and the last year of his life.Is there a book about the movie Clouds? ›
Laura Sobiech is the author of “Clouds: A Memoir,” a book that chronicles the final year of her son Zach's life before he passed away from osteosarcoma in 2013. Her book has been adapted to the big screen in “Clouds,” an original movie streaming on Disney+.Who was Zach Sobiech best friend? ›
The movie, directed by Justin Baldoni, centers around Zach's musical partnership with childhood friend Sammy Brown (played by Sabrina Carpenter) and then-girlfriend Amy Adamle (played by Madison Iseman), who stand by him as he navigates living while dying.What is the explanation of the clouds? ›
Clouds form when the invisible water vapor in the air condenses into visible water droplets or ice crystals. For this to happen, the parcel of air must be saturated, i.e. unable to hold all the water it contains in vapor form, so it starts to condense into a liquid or solid form.What is the plot of Clouds? ›
Based on real events, a young musician discovers his cancer has spread, leaving him just a few months to live.Was Sammy in love with Zach? ›
Yes. The real Sammy Brown has shared that she and Zach grew up together, and there was a moment in real life where Zach found out that she had a crush on him.Was Zach alive during the filming of Clouds? ›
Baldoni reveals that while Zach was still alive, he promised the teen “that I would do whatever was in my power to keep his story alive. To keep him alive.” The resulting film is “Clouds,” titled after Sobiech's hit song.What happens at the end of Clouds? ›
Zach dies on May 20, 2013. Before dying, he has written a college essay about his views on life and death. Sammy, Amy and other friends come together for a group photo in remembrance of Zach, noticing that a cloud in the sky resembles a "Z". Photos of the real Zach and Sammy are shown during the end credits.What is the message of Clouds movie? ›
Zach Sobiech inspires others to do the same as he: make the most of life. In the film, Zach Sobiech (Fin Argus) tells viewers that you don't have to be told you are dying in order to start living.
|Publisher||Holiday House; Reprint edition (January 1, 1975)|
|Reading age||4 - 7 years, from customers|
|Grade level||Kindergarten - 3|
|Item Weight||3.81 ounces|
Clouds is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for brief strong language. Violence: None noted. Sexual Content: A young man sings “I'm sexy and I know it” and gyrates suggestively. A male character is seen shirtless, wrapped in a sheet in a religious ceremony.Is there a movie about Zach Sobiech? ›
PUBLISHED: May 25, 2023 at 2:14 p.m. | UPDATED: May 25, 2023 at 5:47 p.m. If you've been meaning to watch the Zach Sobiech biopic “Clouds,” now is the time to do so. The streaming service Disney+ will remove the 2020 film as of Friday.Is cloud based on a true story? ›
Yes. Clouds is based on the true story of Zach Sobiech. Sobiech grew up in Lakeland, Minnesota, and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma—an aggressive tumor of the bone—when he was 14. He died of complications with cancer a little over a week after his 18th birthday, in 2013.How old was Zach from Clouds when he died? › What is the theme of the cloud? ›
Major Themes in “The Cloud”: Natural beauty, mortality, and joy are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, he personifies a cloud that acts as a mother to the earth, a nurse to the plants and then flies under the sky like bees.Does Sammy have a crush on Zach in Clouds? ›
Did Sammy really have a crush on Zach? Yes. The real Sammy Brown has shared that she and Zach grew up together, and there was a moment in real life where Zach found out that she had a crush on him.Is Clouds movie based on a real story? ›
Grab the Tissues — the True Story Behind Disney+'s 'Clouds' Is a Heartbreaking One. Disney+'s new movie 'Clouds' is based on the true story of Zach Sobiech, who wrote a song to say goodbye to his loved ones at only 17.