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 is the bestselling author of five novels. Combined, her books have reached over a million readers. She is a two-time Whitney Award finalist, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and was recently listed as one of the top 100 Kindle authors “of all time.” Her first novel, Wreckage, is soon to be a pilot on ABC.
SYNOPSIS (WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!)
When I’m Gone is all about Natalie Richardson. Natalie is dead. However, she is still alive – through the letters and secrets slowly being uncovered, she continues to control the lives of her husband, Luke, and all those that she left behind. Yes, they loved Natalie dearly. That said, this new information is making it hard for them to believe that Natalie was the person that they all felt they knew. Over the course of the book, it becomes clear that Natalie had some pretty big secrets of her own. Little by little, the truth comes out, causing Luke to question everything he thought he knew about the woman he loved. Looks can be deceiving and everything was not as it had appeared on the surface.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK
What at first came over as a heartfelt story about life after losing someone, morphed into something entirely different by the end. When I’m Gone is both a love story and an intriguing mystery. The book is written in a page-turning, heart-wrenching prose. It is one of those books that are so well written and engaging that you barely realize that you are already 200 pages into the book. The plot is full of enigma, and the twists that it has on offer can bamboozle the most seasoned fans of the genre. The book is also high on the emotional quotient. However, When I’m Gone is far from the depressing tearjerker that its title or cover might suggest.
Bleeker has skillfully unraveled the story of a man who has to confront the mystery surrounding his wife amidst the drama provoked by her death. Written with all the pain and emotion that is evoked by someone succumbing to cancer, we see how the disease affects not just Natalie but her family and friends as well.
The plot is happy, sad and rankling at the same time. It is gloomy and often involves a contemplative tone, but somehow still manages to be fairly melodramatic in parts. Furthermore, the characters are so dynamic that readers can find themselves wondering whether they like the characters or not. Luke, in particular, is an interesting and complex character. Readers may actually feel the emotional turmoil that he is undergoing. His dilemma of wallowing in his own grief or being present for his children is something many of us can relate to.
On the other hand, Natalie is, quite obviously, a flawed character. She is bound to be both loved and hated. That said, her choices are well explained and stand justified by the end, meaning that she can truly rest in peace.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK
Emily Bleeker seems to have tried really hard to throw in a myriad of twists to conceal the slight predictability of the plot. She tries to cram in so many different turns and crises that the book becomes a little too melodramatic for its own good. Also, some elements feel a bit forced, such as the relationship between Natalie’s best friend, Annie, and Luke. Even so, Bleeker has more than made up for this drawback through her exceptional attention to detail and character development.
Appearing okay is a lot easier than actually being okay.
You can’t assume everything’s okay inside the house just because the paint isn’t peeling and the yard is neatly mowed.
My only hope is that even if I have nightmares, they’ll be better than my reality.
Overall, When I’m Gone is a riveting novel about the loss of our loved ones. It explores the notion that you might not really know the people close to you as well as you thought. It keeps you guessing; it keeps you wanting more. Grabbing 3.8 stars out of 5, it is a well-written family drama and mystery wrapped into one. When I’m Gone is a story about how the secrets we keep haunt us and those we love the most, even after we are no longer in this world. That being said, if someone has just lost a near and dear one, it is probably best to skip over this one as it might strike a bit too close to home.
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