ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The mother of a Minnesota teenager who became an international sensation for recording a poignant farewell song as he battled cancer is about to release a book that lays it all out, the good and the bad.
Zach Sobiech would have turned 19 Saturday, but died almost a year ago after a four-year battle with a rare form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma. His video of "Clouds" has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube, and the song hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart.
This weekend marks the release of "Fly a Little Higher," by his mother, Laura Sobiech, 44, of Lakeland, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/1mi0n6Q ).
She writes candidly about Zach's illness, the day she found the lyrics to what would become "Clouds," and the agony of deciding she couldn't give up his eyes — the only part of his body healthy enough for organ donation. But she said she's most proud of the chapter on her rocky relationship with her husband, Rob.
"We each had our own agony as we battled with despair, and we chose the weapons we each knew best," Sobiech writes.
She told the newspaper she felt it was important to write about their marriage because she didn't want people to put them on a pedestal.
"We struggled through it just like you would — or you do or you will. ... But we're OK. I want that to be part of what people walk away with," she said.
A fund in Zach's name has raised nearly $750,000 for osteosarcoma research. She hopes the book proceeds will help the fund top $1 million by the end of the year.
The book has its origins in the updates she posted on Zach's CaringBridge website. Anne Greenwood Brown, Sobiech's best friend and the author of several popular young-adult novels, was impressed and connected her with her agent, Jacqueline Flynn,
Flynn said there was already a waiting audience because of the international attention Zach's story had received.
But for the release to coincide with his birthday and the anniversary of his death May 20, Sobiech had to complete the writing in 12 weeks.
"It was an agonizing summer," she said. "I don't think I raised my fingers off the keyboard, and if I did, I felt guilty for not writing. It was 10-, 14-hour days, just agonizing over that book."
But Sobiech said her friends' comments on her chapters helped convince her she was on the right track.
"She would call me and say, 'Is this boring?'" Brown said. "And I'd be sobbing, 'Nooooooo.' This is after having lived it and been there. I've read it three times, but I can still pick it up, and I will cry all over again."
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com