Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: November 15, 2018
Published by WhiteFire Publishing
An icy road. A car crash.
A family changed forever.
Hannah Josephson had always been the “perfect” daughter. Kiera couldn’t live up to her before, and she certainly can’t now that her older sister has died in a car accident. But the image she carried resentfully of Hannah is challenged when she finds her dead sister’s diary and begins to read. Apparently Hannah’s final year wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought.
Caught in a pattern of blaming each other, the Josephson family is falling apart. Their father has left, their mother is mixing opiates and alcohol, little sister Maddie has been shipped off to spend the whole summer with their grandmother, and Kiera feels utterly alone with her grief and anger. A summer job helping at a park in a poor section of town provides a friend and a purpose.
But it’s Hannah’s diary that fills her thoughts. For the first time in years, she feels close to the sister she’s lost. But can the knowledge she gleans about her possibly help her patch back together the family that seems determined to implode?
Gone Too Soon is a YA Christian story, but as an adult I also enjoyed it very much. No one can know the effects of the loss of a child or sibling (when you are a child yourself) unless you have also gone through the same situation. Having lost my husband within the last few years, I can understand loss, but not to the same degree. The main thing that got me through my husband’s illness and death was my faith and knowing that he was going to be with God and no longer be in pain. This story deals with a family that is floundering. They are lost in their guilt, their blaming and their grief. Not having faith or belief in God, they have nothing to anchor them and help them deal with their feelings. As Kiera watches her family fall apart around her, she is at a loss, until she finds and reads Hannah’s diary.
I have read several books written by Melody Carlson and I love her realistic writing style. Her characters are so real, that it is almost as if I can picture them and their surroundings. As I read this book, I felt like I was on a journey with Kiera. She struggled, but people were put in her path that were able to help her in her faith journey. I enjoyed reading how this family finally came to believe that Hannah was still alive and living with her Lord. Her thoughts and prayers written in her diary help her family heal, open their hearts and become a real family. I liked that the ending was not fairytale, that Kiera’s parents still have issues to deal with, but they are moving forward. There were a few spots that had me in tears, but what a joyful ending to come out of the darkness and be able to move forward. There were some unexpected events that really moved this story and plot forward. The story is very well-paced and I read it through in one sitting. I recommend this book to those who enjoy Christian Fiction. I would definitely recommend it for libraries in churches and Christian Schools. A great story for teens who are on their own faith journey. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author: Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.
More from Melody: I think I’ve written about a hundred or more teen novels, but Gone Too Soon, a rather serious story, is a bit different. There’s no denying I’ve covered a bunch of gritty issues—everything from self-harm to suicide to murder—but I’ve never written a novel quite like this one. For starters, I wrote it from two viewpoints. Both the teenage daughter and her mother express themselves in this story. And because the premise involves an untimely death, the family is torn apart. As a result, there’s a lot of guilt and blame and confusion going around. They’re all in pain.
I’ve been asked several times what “inspired” this story. And I’m sad to say that it’s simply a case of “art imitating life.” I live in a small community where too many young people have died “too soon.” These untimely deaths—for a variety of random and unexplainable reasons—are devastating. I know more than a dozen families (some very close friends) who have tragically lost a child. So I’ve seen up close how it can tear a family apart. It’s truly heartbreaking, often leaving friends and family without words of comfort or explanation.
But that’s not the only reason I wrote this story. My hope is that teens (who often feel invincible) will be reminded that they are mortal and that this earthly life is temporary. Hard as it sounds, death is inevitable. And it’s not that I want everyone to be obsessed about dying, but we do live in a culture that practices denial about the end of a life. No one really wants to talk about it. My hope is that readers will take a hard, honest look, peel back some layers, and face death for what it is—a part of earthly life. And I hope readers will close the book with a little more understanding . . . and hope.
To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away a grand prize of paperback copy of Gone Too Soon and a matching journal! Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
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