One moment, Olivia Kavanaugh is preparing to walk down the aisle and embrace her own happily ever after. The next, she learns that her fiancé, Wyatt Hammond, has been in a fatal car accident. Then comes a startling discovery: Wyatt’s car wasn’t heading toward the church. He was fifty miles away…with a baby gift in the backseat.
Her faith shaken, Olivia pores over the clues left behind, desperate to know where Wyatt was going that day and why. As she begins uncovering secrets, she also navigates a tense relationship with her judgmental mother and tries to ignore the attentions of a former boyfriend who’s moved back home. But when she starts receiving letters written by Wyatt before his death, she must confront a disturbing question: Can we ever know anyone fully, even someone we love?
When an unexpected path forward—though nothing like the life she once envisioned—offers the promise of a new beginning, will she be strong enough to let go of the past and move toward it?
GENRE: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
PUBLISHER: Waterfall Press
RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016
“Olivia, don’t ever sell yourself short. You have more courage than you realize.”
Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan is one of those books that you ugly cry through and then shove at everyone you know, saying “Read this! You’ll love it!”
Right from the prologue, readers are drawn not only to Olivia but also the mystery of where her fiance was going the morning of their wedding and why he had a baby gift in the back seat. Olivia’s pain is raw and honest, her questions about God authentic and natural. And this isn’t the end of the story… or the grief… or the anger. Yet just when you think you – and Olivia – can’t possibly take more heartwrenching emotion, Allan inserts moments of light and levity to ease the ache a bit.
The story is told from Olivia’s perspective, which makes her a bit of an unreliable narrator, but it also allows the reader to absorb the novel’s events on a deeper level. As Olivia discovers information – or doesn’t – so do we. As she tenses up under her mother’s criticism and rejection, so do we. As she relaxes into her daddy’s embrace or her grandmother’s wisdom, so do we. As her mind keeps going back to that baby gift in her Jeep, so does ours.
Olivia’s grandmother Ruthie is my favorite character in the book, along with her best friend Mia’s daughter. These two bring warmth and humor to the mix, and they more than make up for Olivia’s mother who needs a good purse whomping. The contrast between Ruthie and Scarlett (Olivia’s mom) and their approach both to Jesus and to Olivia made the book even more intriguing to me.
Bottom Line: Go ahead and grab a big box of tissues. You’ll need it nearly right away, but toward the last fourth of the book just go ahead and embrace the ugly cry. Because while Olivia’s story will hurt your heart, it will also heal it. In between, you will smile and cheer and hope. And through it all, Olivia and Wyatt and the other characters in Since You’ve Been Gone will carve a spot in that bruised heart of yours so that they linger with you long after you’ve quit reading.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Powerful story
A true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa Allan writes women’s fiction, stories of hope and redemption. Her upcoming novel, A Test of Faith is scheduled to release in March of 2014. Threads of Hope, one of the books in Abingdon’s Quilt Series, released in March (2013). Walking on Broken Glass (2010) and The Edge of Grace (2011) were also published by Abingdon. Love Finds You in New Orleans (Summerside Press) released in 2012.
Christa is the wife of Ken, mother of five, grandmother of three, and recently retired after teaching twenty-five years of high school English.
More Books by Christa Allan
What about you? What most intrigues you about Since You’ve Been Gone?