Thursday, April 25, 2019

Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson: A Review & A Giveaway!

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?

Click here to purchase your copy.

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.

My Summary

Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson is about a seventeen year old girl that was gone too soon.  Hannah Josephson died in a car accident on New Year’s Eve.  Six months later the Josephson family is rapidly falling apart.  Kiera Josephson is now sixteen years old who never felt she could live up to Hannah’s perfect reputation.  One day Kiera comes across Hannah’s diary in her room and decides to read it.  She is unprepared for what she reads about Hannah’s final year.  Kiera’s parents are arguing constantly which has been hard on the youngest girl, Maddie.  Maddie is being sent to live with their grandmother for the summer since the stress has been affecting Maddie physically.  Moira, Kiera’s mother, has taken to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.  One night an argument gets out of hand between Moira and her husband, Alex.  Moira tells Alex to leave and he decides to do just that.  Alex feels that time apart might be the best thing for their marriage.  Unfortunately, that leaves Kiera at home with her mother who is rapidly spiraling out of control.  Kiera gets a summer job as a counselor with the local parks and recreation department where she gets to help some young deserving children and gets a friend in fellow counselor, Brandon.  As Kiera reads Hannah’s diary, she is shocked by some of the revelations and, for the first time, feels close to her older sister.  Kiera is hoping to take what she has learned from Hannah’s writing to help her family.

My Thoughts

Gone Too Soon is labeled as a young adult novel, but I would not recommend this book for readers under fifteen do to some of the content (drugs, alcohol, parent hitting a child, minor foul language and a teenager taken advantage of at a party).  I felt that Gone Too Soon was a realistic story.  We get to see what a family goes through after losing a family member.  Blame, grief and anger are ripping the Josephson family apart.  I could feel the character’s emotions as they struggled.  The story is told from three different point-of-views.  Kiera’s story is told in the first person, Moira in the third person and then Hannah’s diary entries.  Due to the dark nature of the story, I found Gone Too Soon to be a depressing story.  I was glad when the story started to lighten up in the last half of the book.  I like Kiera’s growth over the course of the story.  She needs to go through the various stages of grief before she can begin to help others.  I found Gone Too Soon easy to read with steady pacing.  I liked how God is presented in this story.  God is our savior, but He is also our friend and comforter.  My favorite sentence from the book is “If we blame ourselves, it’s like saying we are God”.  God is in control and He has a reason for everything He does.  It just may take us a while to discover His intention. I like how Gone Too Soon ended.  There are valuable life lessons presented in this book, and I feel that Gone Too Soon would be a good story for an individual going through a similar situation.   Gone Too Soon is a story of overcoming one’s grief, forgiveness and redemption.  

To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away a grand prize of paperback copy of Gone Too Soon and a matching journal.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops  (schedule below) for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter and Good Luck! Thank you for joining me today.  I will be reviewing Mini Miracles by Melissa Storm tomorrow.  It is the first book in The Church Dogs of Charleston series.  I hope you have a day filled with grace.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, April 25
Emily Yager, April 26
Moments, April 26
Hallie Reads, April 27
Mary Hake, April 28
SusanLovesBooks, April 29
amandainpa, May 4
Remembrancy, May 6


  1. It makes me so sad when a child is left to live with an angry/sad parent after divorce. The other parent can get away (and escape) a bad marriage, but not the children.

  2. It's sad that it takes a sister's death and finding her diary to realize she was human with faults.
    Vivian Furbay jtandviv (at) q (dot) com

  3. This book sounds like a very interesting read.

  4. Great review! Thank you for hosting.