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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Let me preface this by stating for the record that during my teenage years I read a lot of books on death. I don’t even remember the name of the author now, but for over a year, I devoured her books. Each and every one was about people dying, how they felt, what they thought, their anger. I just liked to read, and in those months, that’s what called to me. I won’t go into details about why I needed those books, but I did. I say that to say this. Gone Too Soon is a YA book. There’s going to be speculation that it’s too dark for YA. For some, yes, it very well could be. But considering all the terror and turmoil kids face today, Gone Too Soon might be the only way they feel connected with others who have experienced similar battles. I know it’s ‘just a book’ but sometimes, books are all we have when we don’t know how to reach out to actual people.
Kiera is a complicated character and Melody Carlson does a wonderful job mixing how birth order affects Kiera along with her sister’s death. As the middle child, Kiera feels invisible. When her ‘perfect’ older sister dies, the entire family plays the blame game, an expected part of grieving.
You’re probably going to want to hate Moira. I’ll admit, her actions are despicable, but they are oh so real and that makes them more traumatic. People who have not experienced tragedy won’t be able to understand. I don’t agree with her actions, they’re wrong on so many levels, but I understand them.
Gone Too Soon is a perfect example of how God can take the worst of us and turn us around. He can take the worst situations, the deepest offenses, and provide grace.
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.