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?
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 with hope, humor, and heart.
Christa is the mother of five, and grandmother of three. She recently retired after twenty-five years of teaching high school English, so she doesn’t scare easily. She and her husband Ken and their three neurotic cats live in New Orleans in a 170-year-old home where the fans and the lights turn on and off without them. But, they love it because it’s in the quirky, artsy Bywater where they’re one of the few residents who don’t have piercings, purple hair and/or tattoos.
Whew! I was an emotional mess as I finished Christa Allan’s latest book, Since You’ve Been Gone. Allan took me on a roller-coaster — sad, mad, tickled and hopeful. This novel is not for the feint of heart, but it is for the reader who wants an authentic story full of flawed characters, real-life happenings, and an unchanging God. So come prepared with a few tissues and a few hours to spend with this unputdownable book.
Olivia is hit with the unthinkable — her wedding day ends not with a happily-ever-after, but with grief and seemingly unanswerable questions. When she finds out she is not only a bride without a groom, but a soon to be mother, Olivia finds herself struggling to make sense of why God is silent.
As I stated above, Since You’ve Been Gone is not an easy read. It does have its moments of levity as only Allan can bring. That’s a relief, because Olivia faces loss upon loss within this book’s pages. I won’t spoil it for you, but while Olivia faces more than she thinks she can handle, it is not more than many real life people have to bear. As Olivia’s grandmother, Ruthie, puts it — life can be wonderful and also very, very hard. The story is told in Olivia’s first person voice which works well to see into her character and circumstances. Supporting characters are treated pretty fairly by Olivia, yet no one can truly know the hearts of others. I found myself really liking Ruthie and Evan, Olivia’s ex-boyfriend. Olivia’s mother, Scarlet, not so much. But the reader finds in the end everyone faces loss and grief and responds in many different ways. Wyatt, the one character who cannot speak for himself, is revealed in a very unique way. Well done, Ms. Allan!
While God is largely silent in Olivia’s life, He shows up in what Ruthie calls God-incidences. Olivia and the reader are reminded that while we may not understand what is going on, God is not really absent or not working in the midst of tragedy. He often sends just who we need just when we need them.
I really liked Since You’ve Been Gone. It is one of those books that will make you feel and think and then think again long after the last page is turned. This one is a highly recommended read.
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(Thanks to the author and publisher for a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)