About the Book
Book: Gone Too Soon
Author: Melody Carlson
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: November 15, 2018
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?
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Gone Too Soon takes the reader into the depths of utter brokenness experienced by the family of young Hannah Josephson following her death in an unexpected car accident during her senior year of high school. Six months later, Keira finds her sister’s diary hidden in one of the drawers of her dresser. Never would she have expected to see what she found written inside.
I have been very excited to read this book for quite a while. A few friends of mine shared there reviews a few months ago and it’s been high on my TBR pile since then. There have been some people who loved it from cover to cover, and others who have felt that it went to darker places than they were comfortable with. So here’s the deal: as an adult I know that I want to protect kids from the dangers of the world and believe that they aren’t ready to hear of the level of darkness around them. On the flip side, I know that I was personally exposed to similar content in this book as early as middle school. Yes, I hung out with kids much older than me and didn’t always make the wisest decisions, but the truth is I didn’t fully understand a lot of what I was walking into. Looking back I fully believe that God protected me from a whole lot of yuck, considering the fact that my friends were more “protective” of me than they were inclusive. Why do I share this? Because sometimes I think we can be so careful to protect kids, that we miss the reality of what they are already experiencing. Our fear of talking is then passed on to the next generation. Having said that, this book does hit some tough topics such as rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts; however it also holds some very powerful redemption that couldn’t be fully appreciated until travelling through the depths of brokenness.
Hurt people hurt people. Throughout the story each of the family members seems to lash out at one another to blame them for Hannah’s accident, all while crumbling under the pressure of the guilt they feel themselves. They retreat to whatever seems to give them temporary satisfaction to either numb or ignore their pain. What they don’t know is that Hannah had her own compelling journey that lead her to an eternal relationship with her Heavenly Father. This story doesn’t sugar coat, ignore, or miraculously erase the struggles this family experiences. Instead, the reader is taken deep into the trenches with them and walks with them through a very personal journey towards hope and healing in Christ.
This book was an emotional ride but it was also incredibly powerful. The author did an amazing job of bringing all the characters and their struggles to life throughout the pages. Yes, there are some very dark moments, but the they needed to be walked through to get a fuller picture of the indisputable redemption. I highly, highly recommend this story!
*I received a copy of this book through CelebrateLit. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
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.
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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.