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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 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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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 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?

58 review for Gone Too Soon

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)

    About this book: “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 f About this book: “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?” Series: As of now, no. Spiritual Content- A Scripture is read; A few prayers; Church going & Being witnessed to; Talks about God, believing if He’s there or not, & why He took Hannah; ‘H’s are not capital when referring to God; Kiera was done with God & religion the day her sister was buried; Moira asks God why Hannah died & wonders if He’s even there; Kiera and Maddie talk a bit about God & Maddie isn’t sure what she believes anymore; Kiera says she told Hannah that she was an atheist/agnostic (probably to irritate her, she confesses), *Spoiler* (view spoiler)[but more towards the end of the book, she starts thinking more about her sister’s faith (hide spoiler)] *End of Spoiler*; Mentions of God; Mentions of prayers & praying; Mentions of a Bible, Bible reading, & a Bible study; Mentions of churches, church going, services, sermons, & a pastor; Mentions of youth groups & youth retreats; Mentions of miracles; A few mentions of Heaven; A few mentions of a Jewish dad & going to temple; A couple mentions of a sinner’s prayer; A couple mentions of an angel; *Note: an ‘Oh, God!’ is said by Moira (she says she didn’t approve of taking the Lord’s name in vain, but that perhaps it was a prayer of utter desperation); A mention of a guy being called the devil; A mention of there being hell to pay; A mention of (not having) a religious food diet; A mention of a stereotype about being a vegan and an atheist; A mention of Kiera being ready to debate over evolution; A mention of Kiera’s concern about fossil fuels and global warming; A mention of stopping global warming and preserving the environment. Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a cut-off ‘bi—‘ (want Keira wants to yell back to her mom), a form of ‘crap’, a ‘duh’, a ‘give a rip’, a ‘heck’, a ‘shut up’, a ‘stinking’, a ‘sucks’, a ‘wimp’, a ‘witch’, three ‘dumb’s, four ‘crud’s, four ‘freaking’s, and fourteen forms of ‘stupid’; Kiera & Moira both curse and curse some heavy ones apparently (but all are said, not written, barely-above-not-detailed); Sass & Eye rolling; *Spoiler* (view spoiler)[Moira tries to overdose with pills and vodka (the reader sees this in her point of view), but is saved before it takes action into her system completely and goes to rehab (hide spoiler)] *End of Spoiler*; Kiera thinks she could kill the guy who hurt her sister & does vandalize his car; Moira slaps Kiera (barely-above-not-detailed); Kiera mentions that she used to be a cutter & knows a thing or two about self-inflicted pain and mutilation; Moira drinks wine and vodka often & also once after taking a sleeping pill (along with driving under the influence); Moira used to be a drug addict & starts taking pills again and is high often; Moira is very bitter/angry that Hannah died, compares her other daughters to her, fights with Kiera, & blames everyone else for Hannah’s death; All about mentions of Hannah’s death from a car accident; Many mentions of sleeping pills, drugs, addicts, being high, & overdosing; Many mentions of alcohol/wine/vodka & Kiera’s parents drinking much more after Hannah’s death; Mentions of suicide, planning a suicide, & military men’s suicides (Hannah was strongly considering committing suicide after the *see sexual content spoiler* and wishes that something else would take her life); Mentions of self-harm & when Kiera was a cutter; Mentions of verbal & physical abuse (Moira (Kiera’s mom) is said to have never physically abused anyone, but does get angry enough to consider striking Kiera and later does); Mentions of stealing, thieves, & crimes/criminals (Kiera steals her late sister’s diary and her mom’s pills for her mom’s wellbeing); Mentions of a party with drinking alcohol & teens smoking weed (Hannah’s diary tells of her going to such a party, drinking (and liking a cocktail), & getting in a car with an intoxicated guy (they got home safely); Mentions of drinking, alcohol, drugs, & partying; Mentions of hatred (including Kiera’s mention of her undying hatred for her mother); Mentions of Kiera’s father leaving after fights with her mom; Mentions of divorces; Mentions of jealousy; Mentions of lies & lying; Mentions of tattoos & piercings; A few mentions of murder; A few mentions of prison & delinquents; A few mentions of a bully; A couple mentions of a (recovering) meth addict; A couple mentions of smoking; A mention of jumping off a bridge; A mention of jumping in front of a train; A mention of a rotting body; A mention of blackmail; A mention of poisoning cats; A mention of a cigar box; *Note: A few mentions of TV channels (ESPN, CNN, the Weather Channel, & Disney channel); A few mentions of books (Harry Potter, Narnia, & The Hobbit); A few mentions of car brands; A couple mentions of TV shows (Dr. Who & Dr. Phil); A couple mentions of designers; A couple mentions of Boy Scouts; A mention of a band (Rolling Stones); A mention of a movie. Sexual Content- a ‘lush’; *Spoiler, but important trigger note* (view spoiler)[Mentions of a roofie being slipped into Hannah’s drink & her being raped (there is also mentions of the rapist (it was statutory rape) and Hannah feeling so dirty, but no true details besides the fact she thinks she was slipped a roofie). Near the end, it’s revealed that he came up to Hannah and asks her forgiveness as he has committed his life to Christ (hide spoiler)] *End of Spoiler*; Mentions of when Kiera and a friend looked at a pornographic magazine (they were disgusted and slightly confused); Mentions of making out but stopping before doing anything more; Mentions of boyfriends, girlfriends, dates, dating, & break-ups; A few mentions of Kiera overhearing that she was unplanned, unwanted, and nearly aborted (though her mother says it was a joke); A few mentions of flirting; A few mentions of crushes; A mention of a creep on the prowl for kids; A mention of a kiss; A mention of not kissing; A mention of blushing; *Note: Mentions of a bikini (Kiera wears her sister’s bikini and notes that she’s not as curvy or fills it out like Hannah did); A couple mentions of a lingerie drawer & a padded bra; A couple mentions of a gynecologist & menstrual cramps; A mention of some girls being exhibitionists. -Kiera Josephson, age 16 -Moira Josephson Switches between 1st person P.O.V. of Kiera & 3rd person P.O.V. of Moira 334 pages ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* Pre Teens- One Star New Teens- One Star Early High School Teens- One Star (and a half) Older High School Teens- Two Stars My personal Rating- Two Stars {Trigger Warning & Note: Stars could be added for girls who have had a death in their family for the hope of the book’s message helping, but it may also hit too close to home for some readers.} It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve read a new Melody Carlson YA book. She was my favorite author back when I first got into the Christian market at age 12/13 and I loved reading all the teen drama and angst in her books. This author does teen drama with tough subjects in her YA so well, even though it’s not my favorite thing to read anymore. “Gone Too Soon” was no different with the main plot of the death of an older sister, the main girl struggling in every aspect of her emotions, a mother relying on alcohol and pills, and the whole family slipping through the cracks. I knew that this book would be sad, but I also knew that the happier parts would come (and to be honest, I was waiting for those happier parts as I don’t like my books to be sad or depressing, personally). Because of some content and language, the ratings are lower, but I did love the ending message of this book and did cry towards the end a few times. There can be some triggering parts for some readers, though. Link to review: https://booksforchristiangirls.blogsp... *BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author. *I received this book for free from the Publisher (WhiteSpark Publishing) for this honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Lewis

    About the book: 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 falli About the book: 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? My thoughts: I did not finish this book. I found this story did not fit with my morals and standards. there was drugs Alcohol Rape Abuse All were very upsetting and I felt I could not continue through to the end. On the positive side, I felt there was a lot of room for character growth on Kiera's part. This does not mean I won't be reading any more books by Melody, I have a few of her stories on my shelves waiting to be read. Thank you to Whitefire publishing who sent me a free copy of this book. "I received a review copy from the publisher, and the thoughts and opinions are my own. I was in no way required to write a favorable review."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Timerman

    As I began this book I soon realized this is a story about a parent’s worst nightmare, the loss of a child. The author gives us an in-depth look into the lives of the survivors, and it is apparent that there might not be a whole family unit by the end of this read. The family consists of parents, and three children, and when the oldest is killed, the aftermath of guilt and loss becomes overpowering for those left behind, and we journey with the survivors, not knowing how this is going to end up. T As I began this book I soon realized this is a story about a parent’s worst nightmare, the loss of a child. The author gives us an in-depth look into the lives of the survivors, and it is apparent that there might not be a whole family unit by the end of this read. The family consists of parents, and three children, and when the oldest is killed, the aftermath of guilt and loss becomes overpowering for those left behind, and we journey with the survivors, not knowing how this is going to end up. This story felt so real, and the journey through these pages is not always easy, but it was a compelling read. You might want to keep the tissues handy, but I recommend this book! I received this book through the Publisher WhiteFire, and was not required to give a positive review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Raechel

    The Josephson family is falling apart after losing the eldest daughter, Hannah, to a car-crash. “Gone Too Soon” is told primarily from the first-person perspective of middle daughter, Kiera, with some portions of the story told from mother Moira’s third-person perspective. I actually really liked Kiera. She was rough around the edges, but certainly not hard to love. She was hurting and scarred with lots of wounds. As mentioned, the whole family really does have a lot of issues, and reading it was s The Josephson family is falling apart after losing the eldest daughter, Hannah, to a car-crash. “Gone Too Soon” is told primarily from the first-person perspective of middle daughter, Kiera, with some portions of the story told from mother Moira’s third-person perspective. I actually really liked Kiera. She was rough around the edges, but certainly not hard to love. She was hurting and scarred with lots of wounds. As mentioned, the whole family really does have a lot of issues, and reading it was saddening. The book itself was easy to read – I ended up reading it in two sittings because I didn’t want to stop. However, it is not a light book with easy topics. Moira is trying to ease her pain through vast amounts of alcohol and pills. The father, Alex completely checks out, withdrawing from the family. He seems nice and more gentle at times, but his neglect is another form of abuse, and just as terrible. He abandons his family because he can’t handle it. The youngest daughter, Maddie, is sent to live with her grandmother for the summer, which was probably the best thing for her. Kiera finds her deceased sister’s diary and begins reading it, surprised at what she finds but feeling closer to Hannah than she was when she was alive. I won’t summarize the entire book because you can find that in the book-blurb, but I just want to re-emphasize that this family is struggling. Hard. And Kiera, only 16, is trying to handle everything on her own. It really did make me sad. She finds solace in her summer job, and the friend she meets there, and at the end there begins healing which is very good. I was very glad to see this one part where a lady prayed for Kiera-the prayer was very beautiful and meaningful. However, how the novel approached the “God theme” was definitely in the more common, “God is cool” vibe, ‘He just wants to be your friend” etc. which I feel leaves off His holiness, and our reverence for Him. So I didn’t care for that. Also, there was a brief part where evolution/creation was discussed and it was basically discrediting creation which I didn’t care for either. I get that the author probably wanted to come across as unbiased for non-Christian readers, but I expected the more mature, Christian character to have stood up for it or explained Creation with more passion, rather than just passing it off. The scene went like this: “So you believe the old fable about God creating the world in seven days? I challenge him, ready to debate over evolution. But he just laughs. “I don’t know about that.” He goes on the say how he expects that someone had to have created all this beauty of the world, but it was so…flimsy, I felt, and I was a little disturbed about that. I can’t say I would comfortably hand this to the teens I know. At this point, I don’t think I necessarily would. I would strongly suggest a parent read it first because of its content. I think for a non-Christian teen or someone who is going through the same thing would find this book very good and helpful, but it is rather dark in its premise and plot, and I would definitely suggest parental involvement. I know I am a more cautious reader, but I stand by the verse in the Bible that tells us to think on whatever is lovely, pure, of good report, etc. And no, that certainly doesn’t mean we evade the hard things – not at all! Life gives us many hard things. But we should also be raising our teens and teaching them how to handle these things as well. Because yes, these things happen, but we also have a great Savior to help us. In the end, I enjoyed reading this book, but would be careful in recommending it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    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 Christi 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 are 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    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, 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

    I received a review copy from the publisher, and the thoughts and opinions are my own. I was in no way required to write a favorable review. Gone Too Soon is written with great complexity and is a brilliant piece of young adult fiction. I think that this is a book that can span generations as Ms. Carlson utilizes three separate voices to distinguish between three different characters. For a less-tenured writer, this advanced technique would prove to be too much, but because of her longstanding ex I received a review copy from the publisher, and the thoughts and opinions are my own. I was in no way required to write a favorable review. Gone Too Soon is written with great complexity and is a brilliant piece of young adult fiction. I think that this is a book that can span generations as Ms. Carlson utilizes three separate voices to distinguish between three different characters. For a less-tenured writer, this advanced technique would prove to be too much, but because of her longstanding experience, it proves to be very effective. Her main character, Kiera, is a strong teenager, and because she is written in first person, her strength is able to shine through with clarity and force. I believe young adults will be drawn to her raw and vulnerable voice, relating to the drama that is high school. Her mother is written in third person, making it easier to write descriptively about the setting and internal thoughts, which I think on some level, all mothers will relate to. Finally, Ms. Carlson uses diary entries to introduce us to Kiera's older sister, Hannah, and it's through her diary that we are able to learn about her insecurities, her failures and her faith in Christ. This is not your formulaic Christian novel, and to be frank, it was not an easy book to read because it deals with topics that are not fun, issues that for many years were not talked about in Christian Fiction. But it was very thought-provoking. The fact is, no one is immune to issues in life, even Christians. Ms. Carlson handled each tough subject with great compassion and amazing care. Through it all, Ms. Carlson directs the reader to Christ, showing redemption and reconciliation are possible. By the end, I was in tears as through Hannah's diary, a dysfunctional family found their way back together. I've been reading Ms. Carlson's books since I was in high school, 20+ years ago. I remember enjoying her books then, but I think time has added a maturity to her voice that only life experience and thorough research can produce. This is my first young adult novel by Ms. Carlson, and I'm a fan. I think this novel is appropriate for ages 14 and up. I would advise mothers to read through this book first, to be aware of the tough topics that come up as I think discussion should follow. I read this book during a very vulnerable time and found great comfort and strength in it. The question of why or how a loving God could make the unthinkable happen is well handled and allowed for deep reflection on my part.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    The perfect daughter gone too soon, leaving a family so fragile that every word or thought becomes a shard breaking open the wounds over and over. Blame, regret and emptiness fill a home that everyone thought was a "together" family. Youngest sister Maddie is shipped off to Grandma's, giving her at least a chance at a normal summer. But as Dad abandons the family to golf and buddies, and Mom drowns her sorrows in drugs and booze, teen Kiera is left to fend for herself. A first job and the secret The perfect daughter gone too soon, leaving a family so fragile that every word or thought becomes a shard breaking open the wounds over and over. Blame, regret and emptiness fill a home that everyone thought was a "together" family. Youngest sister Maddie is shipped off to Grandma's, giving her at least a chance at a normal summer. But as Dad abandons the family to golf and buddies, and Mom drowns her sorrows in drugs and booze, teen Kiera is left to fend for herself. A first job and the secret reading of her dead sister Hannah's diary force Kiera to be the adult in the family and face some hard facts about the Josephson family. Melody Carlson is a prolific writer-- historical , contemporary, suspense, romance, Amish, children's lit, and YA. Mostly I've read her historical fiction and have always liked her writing, so I was intrigued by GONE TOO SOON, her newest YA novel. Young adults are a tough audience -- most have lives so busy that reading often takes a low priority. Their books need to have a strong appeal -- dynamic characters, often charging into adulthood when the adults fail them in some way. Kiera and her family definitely fit that scenario. When Kiera's parents fail to lead the way in the family's healing after Hannah's death, Kiera becomes almost feral. She eats little, dresses like a grungy, homeless person, and picks a fight whenever she can -- a stark contrast to her sweet older sister who had been the best at everything. But as Kiera begins to read Hannah's diary, she begins to change. One of the things I liked best about this book was Kiera's process of growing up. It is raw and emotional, full of foolish mistakes, but also courageous decisions. Big changes happen in a short time, but the changes are balanced with descriptions of days filled with boredom, loneliness, and typical teen angst. Beneath the whole story is the authentic message of God's love, and it is Hannah's words that will reveal that to the family. I must leave the details of this family's challenges to Melody Carlson, the real story teller. Although this book is probably aimed at teens, I feel adults will like the book, too. I received a copy from the publisher, WhiteFire. All opinions in this review are mine

  9. 5 out of 5

    MJSH

    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 Moi 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marylin

    Grief can take a family and either bring them together or shake them apart. This book deals with some pretty heavy issues, yet, the author has a beautiful way of showing the possibility of healing. Kiera's life is turned upside down when her older sister dies. It not only affected Kiera, but every member of her family and they were falling apart. Kiera doesn't know what to do or how to survive until she stumbles on her sister's diary. Reading it changes everything in Kiera and she starts to see Grief can take a family and either bring them together or shake them apart. This book deals with some pretty heavy issues, yet, the author has a beautiful way of showing the possibility of healing. Kiera's life is turned upside down when her older sister dies. It not only affected Kiera, but every member of her family and they were falling apart. Kiera doesn't know what to do or how to survive until she stumbles on her sister's diary. Reading it changes everything in Kiera and she starts to see things differently. Can she find hope and help her family? I guess you'll have to read this book to find out. Near the end of the book, there was a really neat quote and I'd like to share it: "But I believe this - God knows what he's doing, and he knows what's best for us. We are so limited with these earth-eyes. We only see here and now. God sees everything." What a wonderful message for all of us to hold onto when we face struggles that might be out of our control. This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend you pick it up. I received this book from the author to give an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    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 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I never know what to expect when I pick up a Young Adult novel, but this one hooked me right away. Much of the novel was first person, in Kiera's voice, which was a good technique. In real life, I don't think I would have liked Kiera, but being inside her head gave me compassion for her. I grew to appreciate her gutsiness, and applauded the steps she took to grow up. For being a YA novel, it was not too angsty, which I appreciate. It deals with many difficult topics in a way that is real, yet app I never know what to expect when I pick up a Young Adult novel, but this one hooked me right away. Much of the novel was first person, in Kiera's voice, which was a good technique. In real life, I don't think I would have liked Kiera, but being inside her head gave me compassion for her. I grew to appreciate her gutsiness, and applauded the steps she took to grow up. For being a YA novel, it was not too angsty, which I appreciate. It deals with many difficult topics in a way that is real, yet appropriate for teen readers. As I was reading, my thoughts were that I really wanted to share this book. Because of a varied cast of characters, there is someone for everyone to relate to, so teens and their parents can enjoy this book. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, WhiteSpark, for review purposes. The thoughts expressed here are my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Byers

    The Josephson family suffered a huge loss when the oldest daughter was killed in a car accident. They all go about dealing with her loss in their own and sometimes destructive way. Emotional story that primarily focuses on Kiera, the middle daughter, and her mother, Moira. Grab some tissues for this one as you enter this gripping tale of grief and guilt/blame this family needs to work through. A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher. A review was not required and all thoughts and opini The Josephson family suffered a huge loss when the oldest daughter was killed in a car accident. They all go about dealing with her loss in their own and sometimes destructive way. Emotional story that primarily focuses on Kiera, the middle daughter, and her mother, Moira. Grab some tissues for this one as you enter this gripping tale of grief and guilt/blame this family needs to work through. A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher. A review was not required and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    As soon as I read the description of this book, I knew it was one that I would like to read. This book gave a glimpse of what it’s like to experience grief from losing a loved one. I enjoyed the switching of the points of view. I know this is a book that I will share with book loving friends and family members. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Thomas

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Bartlett

  18. 5 out of 5

    Treva

  19. 5 out of 5

    Iola

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ronda Andresen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Todd

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marnie Potter

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wanda Cook

  24. 5 out of 5

    susan foxx

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Lownsberry

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Bogue

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dion

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  31. 4 out of 5

    Karen Boraski

  32. 5 out of 5

    Clara

  33. 5 out of 5

    Rosanne Bartlett

  34. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  35. 5 out of 5

    Carol Workman

  36. 4 out of 5

    DJ

  37. 5 out of 5

    Becky Van Daniker

  38. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  41. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

  43. 4 out of 5

    Connie Saunders

  44. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Currie

  45. 4 out of 5

    Love Books

  46. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  47. 5 out of 5

    Lee Ann

  48. 5 out of 5

    Mary Huber

  49. 5 out of 5

    Laura Potter-Bucek

  50. 5 out of 5

    Mary Luzader

  51. 4 out of 5

    Sumit

  52. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  53. 4 out of 5

    Candy

  54. 5 out of 5

    Becca-Rae Weidel

  55. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  56. 5 out of 5

    Loraine

  57. 4 out of 5

    Martha Treder

  58. 4 out of 5

    Sue Ryd

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