Friday, April 26, 2019

Review + Tour GIVEAWAY: Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson

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.

My Thoughts

Our old Christian clich├ęs and platitudes flew right out the window not long after Hannah died. Now it’s all about blame and shame and guilt and grief … and this seething, deep-rooted hatred that taints everything.

* * * * *

I loved Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson. It’s not a comfortable read, nor an easy one – but it is extremely relevant and compelling. I highly recommend it to young adults and adults alike.

On one level, Gone Too Soon is a fast-paced, engrossing story that’s hard to put down. But on a much deeper level, it transports us into the hearts and minds of a family trying to cope with unimaginable grief. A large part of the story is, as one would expect, quite dark. It’s raw and emotional, reflecting unhealthy coping methods for grief at first; but I suspect some of these methods are not foreign to Christian families. Everyone feels personal guilt for Hannah’s death, but hides that guilt so that it festers.

Kiera’s reading of Hannah’s diary gradually reveals a young lady who wasn’t all that she seemed, one who faced struggles and temptations that hit all teenagers. But God’s love, grace and forgiveness are woven throughout, resulting in a beautiful story of redemption and restoration. There’s also the timely reminder that, no matter our age, tomorrow is never assured.

Gone Too Soon is a moving story that leaves readers with much to reflect upon. Recommended to all readers.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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.


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 for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the image above or the link below to enter.

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. Gone Too Soon by Author Melody Carlson sounds interesting. I was the youngest child in my family. So I can relate to Kiera's feelings before her sister passed away. But I could not imagine how Kiera felt then. It seems like Kiera seen a different side to Hannah after she found Hannah's diary. Thank you for a great giveaway!

  2. This book sounds like a very intriguing read.

  3. Carole, Thank you for the wonderful review! Sounds like one not to miss.

  4. This is a beautiful set (journal and paperback). Sounds like an emotional read.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the Gone Too Soon. I am interested in reading this book.