From the publisher—
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…
Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.
The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.
This book has everything going for it: a heart-tugging widower, a mystery to be solved (actually, more than one although they’re not the kind you find in mystery novels, strictly speaking), family secrets to be revealed, a promise of hope for the future. There are surprises both good and not so much so and it’s clear that Natalie truly cared for her husband and children. It was—and still is—a loving family and the secrets that are revealed towards the end are maddening as well as sad. Why, then, didn’t I connect with this story as much as I should have?
When I’m Gone is beautifully written and the characters are vividly drawn but I think perhaps it was a wrong choice for me. Truthfully, there is nothing actually wrong with it and I think most other readers will really appreciate it whereas I just never was emotionally invested and that may be partially because I find the idea of these letters coming for such a long time kind of unhealthy for those who are left behind. It seems to me that the healing process is dragged out much longer than is natural and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. One heartfelt letter, yes; a string of them, maybe not.
When I think about the story Ms. Bleeker has given us, I’m quite sure my reaction isn’t fair but I also believe I understand it. I had five deaths to cope with in 2015 and, by the end of the year, I was continually on edge wondering what horrible thing would be happening next. Perhaps it’s too soon for me to read a tale like this one because my own emotions are still fragile. Because of that, I fully intend to read this again when I’m more receptive and I’m pretty darned sure I’m going to love it.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2016.
About the Author
Emily Bleeker is a former educator who discovered her passion for writing after introducing a writer’s workshop to her students. She soon found a whole world of characters and stories living inside of her mind. It took a battle with a rare form of cancer to give her the courage to share that amazing world with others. Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and four kids. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running. Connect with her or request a Skype visit with your book club at emilybleeker.wordpress.com.
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