Saturday, March 12, 2016

"When I'm Gone" by Emily Bleeker


"I feel pretty melodramatic writing you a letter to open on the day of my burial. According to Dr. Saunders I have a pretty decent chance of beating this thing, but you know  me;  I don't trust doctors.  No harm in starting this journal, you know, just in case.  I've always wanted to try my hand at writing; maybe this will be my first step toward finally writing the novel dancing around my brain for the past ten years. They  say write what you know, right? Apparently I know cancer and we are not friends."........

This bittersweet tale takes place in Farmington, Michigan.  Luke and wife, Natalie, and their children; Nine year old May, Will, their 14 year old son, and three year old Clayton. The story begins on the day of Natalie's funeral . Later that day after returning home, he finds the first of what will be a series of letters from her. The thought of the letters coming gives him something to lean on, a little hope.

Her love for her family carries on after her death. Her words give him strength he needs until he can pick up the pieces of the new life he never wanted. Natalie left him a true gift. She is teaching her husband to help her family go on without her.

Where are the letters coming from though? They're arriving regularly in the mail. The pain of losing her is so hard on all of them.  A heartbreaking story, but at the same time it's the story of a mother's love.  Luke is living by the letters. Afraid not to and afraid to let go. He doesn't follow every detail exactly but he fears not having them or the day they stop. He brings the people who were important to Natalie into their lives trying to honor her wishes.

The twists come when Natalie's secrets come to light as the letters and life goes on. Slowly things are revealed. Tragic secrets and surprises come so quickly that I couldn't stop reading this story. Emotional, as a parent knowing you're going to die and leave the people you love. Suspenseful, while trying to figure out what secrets people close to them are keeping from Luke and the kids. A story of how a whole other life and world existed for someone you shared your life with. Will Natalie's letters lead Luke on a road to healing and moving on without her? Or will the secrets crush him?

Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing