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?
This is not an easy, light YA read. It’s gritty, depressing at times, and authentic. It deals with real issues that include grief of a daughter/sister, a dysfunctional family, alcohol, prescription drug abuse, neglect, and more.
But as Kierra steals her deceased sister’s diary and reads through it, she finds that none of her family really knew Hannah. The oldest of three sisters, Hannah seemed perfect, like she had it all together, but there’s a darker side of her that she kept hidden.
So yes, this is a hard read, but it also offers glimpses of the hope and healing that lie at the other side of grief. And the promise that this life is not the end for those who believe and confess Christ.
I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Heartbreakingly real. As a YA book I would gauge the maturity level before permitting them to read this. I needed tissues several times as the heartbreak over losing a child, grandchild, sibling, etc can be devastating to some families especially if they are not grounded in their faith. This is a look at such a family and the blame game over the circumstances. It is a look at what wearing a mask and pretending all is well while disintegrating inside will do. It shows how communications is vital to the health of a family. I loved the diary and the role it played in helping this family find their way to redemption, forgiveness, and the grace and mercy of Christ. Well written and great characters this is a story that gives you food for thought.
I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
This is the first YA book by Melody Carlson that I have read and it was totally absorbing and intensely emotional. The story tracks the devastation and reconstruction of a family after the death of the oldest daughter at the age of seventeen. The plot addresses so much more than just grief and guilt after an untimely death of a loved one; it delves deeply and frankly into a stark and raw look at depression, addiction, and spirituality through the eyes of sixteen year old Kiera and her mother Moira.
Kiera starts out immature, angry, selfish and stubborn but, as she reads her deceased older sister’s diary, she matures and becomes likable. Bernard provides the much needed friendship and companionship for Kiera during the summer vacation that her family falls apart. Moira, in her own immaturity and selfishness, also has a lot of growing up to do, as does Kiera’s dad. Though at times extremely painful and somewhat uncomfortable, the author does an excellent job crafting a heart-wrenching yet redemptive story about grace, forgiveness, and acceptance.
I was given a copy of this book by WhiteFire Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
As this is the first YA book I have read, I was not sure what to expect. What I received was a story that brought tears, anger, frustration and eventually a sense of peace. This contemporary family is basically dysfunctional, a situation that is compounded by the untimely death of the oldest daughter. What follows is blame, depression and addiction eventually leading to an overdose. When the diary of this young lady is found, the story around her life is told. What would you give up to help ‘heal’ your family? A story of how faith can bring about forgiveness and wholeness.
This ARC was given by CelebrateLit. This review gives just a small window of my impressions.
Nicole Santana –
Gone Too Soon (2018) by Melody Carlson is a PHENOMENAL standalone Young Adult novel. This book comes in all forms including eBook, and is 195 pages in length. With a full-time job and a very lively six-year old at home, this book took me two days to read. I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, WhiteSpark Publishing. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give Gone Too Soon 5+++++ STARS. This book is a Christian Young Adult novel.
Right off the bat, I’m telling you that I do not have enough adequate words to describe just how good Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson is. This book should be a MUST-READ for adults and teens alike. If you have ever dealt with, or are currently dealing with, a family that is so dysfunctional it’s imploding or exploding then this may be a book you will want to read. For me, the best part of this novel is its characters. They may be some of the best written characters I have ever read. What they go through and how they go through it all is SO realistic and SO human. I did feel I could relate to all of them. Gone Too Soon wrecked my heart as a mother, daughter, wife, and a teacher, but by the end it left me feeling hopeful. Many things are left unresolved by the end — again, very realistic — but I feel like things will probably work out for the hurting family in this story, and I’m OK with that.
Melody Carlson tackles BIG topics in this novel: the untimely death of a daughter, the grief and guilt associated with any death, the breaking apart of a marriage, drug and alcohol abuse, a suicide attempt, child neglect, the strife between a mother and a daughter she doesn’t understand, and the difference between the appearance of faith versus actual faith in God. Gone Too Soon is a heavy book. Having dealt with most all of these topics in my teenage and young adult years, I did have to take reading breaks to catch my breath. But, I’ve never been more happy to read a book. Gone Too Soon, for me, was an extremely cathartic, soul-searching read. If I could purchase a copy of this novel for all of my students, I would purchase today. And, when my six-year old is old enough (I would say 14 is a good age), she most definitely will be reading this book. Why? Because the way Carlson deals with these BIG topics is realistic, relatable, and responsible. The way this book altered some of my perspectives in a more positive manner makes me want so badly to share this with others who could benefit from a similar perspective change now in their young years before they set negative habits, thoughts, and feelings that are really hard to change when older.
The number one reason I would make teens read this book is for the fantastic discussion about guilt. We humans take on guilt like nothing else. We shackle ourselves within its clutches and wear it like a parka. We stew in it and become irrational about it. And, we get sick to our stomachs going over all the many ways we could have done something differently, which leads to even more guilt. Kiera, the main character, feels severe guilt over the death of her sister, Hannah. However, a perspective change will lead Kiera to at least ponder her role in her sister’s death, and start a walk down a more healthy path. An old woman in a hospital sees a worried Kiera (I won’t tell you why she’s there) and asks what she is worried about. Kiera, for some unknown reason, tells this old woman her feelings. The old woman listens attentively, and then kindly asks Kiera, “Are you God?” This throws Kiera for a loop. Of course Kiera is not God. What a crazy question. The old woman asks, “Then why do you feel guilty about something you couldn’t control?” This stops Kiera in her tracks, and I don’t mind telling you it stopped me in mine as well. This shifts Kiera’s perspective and makes her realize that she’s holding onto baggage that is not hers to hold on to. This reminds me of 1 Peter 5:7 which tells us to “cast all anxieties on [Jesus] because He cares” for us. We are NOT supposed to hold our feelings in. God is the BOSS. When He allows certain BIG things to happen to us, instead of feeling guilty, angry, and devastated and stubbornly holding those feelings within ourselves, we are called to give them to Him. When Kiera realizes she is taking on God’s job, and that she isn’t responsible for her sister’s death, she is able to begin true healing of her many hurts. No one ever gets over the death of a loved one, but we can heal a little from it by going to God. He wants to take the baggage from us, and He wants to comfort us. This is why I think my students need this book. If they could learn this lesson NOW at 16 imagine all the unnecessary hurt and grief they could save themselves from!
Gone Too Soon packs a punch. There are so many things going on in this book that I think a book club could discuss for weeks. In fact, I think this is a great book to read with more than one person so a real discussion can take place. While reading this book I did chuckle a little, cried quite a bit, felt really frustrated and angry at times, and really searched my soul on a couple of issues. This is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time. Gone Too Soon is an excellent novel that I highly recommend. Just make sure you have some tissue nearby — you’re probably going to need it.
GONE TOO SOON is not the first book I’ve ever read by Melody Carlson and it won’t be the last! The twists and turns keep coming and I had to know how it was going to end! Every time I thought I knew where this story was going, a few pages later, Melody Carlson threw me for a loop and I knew I was wrong! I’m kicking myself for not reading this wonderful novel sooner. GONE TOO SOON is not a comfortable read and it will be difficult on your emotions.
GONE TOO SOON is unputdownable! There were quite a few times when reading it that I wanted to reach into the pages and slap a few of these people with their selfish ways of thinking. I found myself giggling one second and then tearing up the next. If you are looking for an emotional and raw story to pull you out of your book slump, you can’t go wrong with GONE TOO SOON. I’m so excited to read more of Melody Carlson as she is now one of my auto buy authors.
The twists and turns in GONE TOO SOON are going to keep you up late into the night trying to figure it out. One minute you believe you know where Kiera is going with her life and the next you are sitting there shaking your head, wondering what the heck just happened. I had my ideas, I had it all figured out, or so I thought, and BAM…….wrong again! Once you start reading, trust me, you aren’t going to be able to stop! When everything is finally revealed, well, you won’t believe it!
GONE TOO SOON begins with Kiera fighting with her mother once again. Her family is falling apart. She finds her sister Hannah’s diary and can’t believe how much she didn’t know what was going on. Her sister died in a tragic car accident just six months ago. The grief and pain along with loss that this family is experiencing will break your heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading GONE TOO SOON. It is also heart breaking and filled with so many different emotions. There is so much going on in this story, but Melody Carlson does a wonderful job of weaving all the pieces together. All of the characters will have you feeling sad and then giggling on the same page. Once you finish devouring this story, you are going to want to tell everyone you know about this awesome book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
This book was a timely one for me to read. I lost my brother in March and the grieving process is so hard. There are times I wish I could have one more day with him. Other times I’m angry because he left me and then there are times I think I should have done more. Gone Too Soon is a powerful story of a family dealing with the loss of a family member. We don’t know much about Hannah at first , only that she was the oldest daughter and died in an accident. Many people thought she was beautiful and the favorite of the family.
I loved how the author examines each family member as they grieve her loss. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. It was easy to relate to the mother especially. Her guilt overwhelms her and she falls into a hole of alcohol and drugs to drown her sorrow. It is an easy escape because you feel no pain, but you go deeper into the trap of addiction.
Kiera is the middle daughter and is the main focus of the book as she recounts how her family deals with Hannah’s death. The author pulls apart each character and slowly puts them back together as they each go through different emotions such as guilt, depression, blame, anger and suicidal thoughts. It’s easy to see that this was a dysfunctional family hiding behind smiles and a front that others couldn’t see through.
I was angry with the father for the longest time because I thought he took the easy way out and just walked away. It surprised me how cold he became towards his wife, but soon I discovered it was his way of dealing with grief. The author does a great job of taking a character and exposes their inner thoughts and vulnerability.
We get to see the real Hannah through a diary she left behind. It is filled with confessions, real pain and raw emotions. There was something in the book about forgiving someone that really hit home for me. When you forgive someone, they don’t have power over you anymore. It’s interesting to note that each member of the family including the youngest daughter felt responsible for Hannah’s death. The author does a great job explaining the guilt they feel and how it was an eye opener for each of them.
The book does deal with some sensitive subjects, but in a way that is helpful and realistic. The book is geared towards teens but I think it is for anyone who wants to be free from guilt, have a relationship with Jesus and learn that grieving is a process that takes time. It is not an easy book to read but it is one that helped me understand that none of us are immune to death and how we deal with it is our choice. I have left God out of my life for the last month, but this book reminded me that He is still here and he does heal the brokenhearted.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Goon too soon is a redemption story and a story of God answering a young girl’s prayer in a way she probably never suspected. Keira faces issues that unfortunately many face in our broken world. Feeling unloved and unwanted and turning a hard exterior because of it. Dealing with parents who fight and a parent who leaves. Dealing with a parent who has turned to substance abuse. Any one of these can be hard to deal with. Keira deals with them all in addition to guilt about her sister’s death.
Hannah, the sister, speaks to the family through her diary which Keira finds by “chance.” This diary is used in the lives of the remaining family members. Gone Too Soon is an excellent example of Romans 8:28 – God working all things out for the food of those who love him.
Melody Carlson has been a successful author for a number of years. It is evident she knows her audience. Gone Too Soon is well-written. The characters are believable. Readers will be drawn into the story, hoping and praying everything will eventually be okay.
I would not hesitate to add Gone Too Soon to my k-12 Christian School library although I would mark it for high school only. I highly recommend Gone Too Soon.
I want to thank Celebrate Lit for the complimentary e-copy of Gone Too Soon. This is my honest review.
From a mother’s point of view, this was a hard story to read, since I can only imagine how hard it would be to recover from the death of a child! The story is wonderfully written, about a young woman’s struggle to come to grips with her sister’s untimely death and the different ways her family has handled the loss. When she finds Hannah’s diary, she begins to feel closer to her sister than she has in a long time. As she discovers what really happened the last year of her sister’s life, she begins to discover herself.
This was a well written story with memorable characters!
I received this book from the publisher. This is my honest review.
Whew. This is a tough one to review, because of the subject matter itself and because it’s difficult to discuss without giving spoilers. The first half of this book is very dark. Although there are important peripheral characters, the main characters are sixteen-year-old Kiera, her mom Moira, and her recently-deceased older sister Hannah. Kiera’s part of the story is told in the first person and Moira’s in third-person limited point of view; Hannah’s story is told through diary entries. As such, the reader is really placed into the mind of each character, and let me reiterate: it’s very dark, especially for the first half of this novel. On the one hand, this really makes the experience realistic and enables the characters to come alive and evoke sympathy, but…maybe it’s a bit too much for too long.
The target audience for “Gone Too Soon” is young adult, and as an adult reading this, I would categorize it as mature young adult or even adult. I loved that this became a story about redemption and coming to terms with grief, with all of the baggage that involves: shame, guilt, anger, depression, etc. However, I feel the need to add a major caveat here. A large percentage of this book is not a feel-good story, and it’s not meant to be. This is about a family truly coming apart at the seams, and it is anything but pretty. It is raw and real, and the first two-thirds or so of the story could be included in a manual about how not to deal with grief. There are plenty of unhealthy coping mechanisms, and for this reason I would issue a trigger warning for suicide, rape, and drug and alcohol abuse. There are no graphic details, but the mindset of the characters are described thoroughly. Given this, I would only recommend this book to those who are looking to help people who are dealing with grief and/or those who are looking for a heartfelt read but who are approaching it from a stable mental health perspective. The later part of this book, about the resolution of the plot, could be helpful as a Christian approach to grief. My main bone of contention with the book as a whole is that while I found it to be an absolutely compelling read and loved that it dealt with real-life issues and brought in a Christian perspective in a realistic, non-preachy manner, I feel that the darkness was too heavy without any whispers of hope for too long before any relief entered the narrative.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.
“Gone Too Soon” by Melody Carlson is a book that is really a good book but one that really deals with a really hard topics. The topics of death and alcohol and drug addiction and suicidal thoughts and an attempt.
This book really makes a reader think about life after death.
This book is not a feel good book nor one to be taken light hearted but it another one that is “real life” fiction.
This book really makes me think about not wanting to read for awhile but that is not the book’s fault it just hits too close to home, I have been dealing with my mom and dad’s death. Yesterday was a year ago that we put mom on hospice and she died 5 days later and my dad died in January and I have had struggled with depression so this book was more than fiction for me. But, even with saying all that I do recommend this book to other readers that like Christian reads, I really appreciate the fact that the author points out that those in Christ never ready die and that their witness outlives there earthly lives.
And I am not going to quit reading because at the end of the book there is a reason to keep going on because this reader realizes that even with all that is wrong with life there is hope and things are going to be better and if the Josephson family can come together and mend, then we all can.
I was given a complementary copy by the author and Celebrate Lit. These opinions are my own.