Since You’ve Been Gone (Christa Allan) – Review

5 stars

~ About the Book ~

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?

~ Excerpt ~

On the way to the room where I now slept, I bypassed the bedroom Wyatt and I had shared. I’d toted his pillow into the guest bedroom the first night I slept by myself in the house. Laying my cheek on the pillowcase, smelling the fading scent of him was the closest we’d ever be for the rest of my life.
But then came the day when my parents revealed more about the direction Wyatt was headed.
They waited until days after his funeral to break the news to me because, as they said, “It didn’t change the fact that Wyatt died. We didn’t want to heap still  more onto an avalanche of so much tragedy.”
I didn’t believe them at first and wished they’d kept it to themselves, because knowing that changed everything.
After they told me, I came home that night, yanked off the pillowcase, and washed it. Later, fueled by rage and betrayal and too many glasses of wine, I rifled through every pocket of every piece of clothing in his closet. I hurled each one onto the bed when I finished.
Memories lingered in all those familiar things he wore. Soaked through my skin, coursed through my veins, and settled in my heart. The green-plaid flannel shirt he wore to the Christmas tree farm last year. His “No White Flags” shirt in honor of Steve Gleason, the Saints player with ALS, which he put on every time the team played. The blue linen shirt that defined his broad shoulders and narrow waist, and my hands against his chest. Sometimes I had to toss things he’d worn before my hands felt scorched by so much left of him in them.
The clothes covered the bed in a tangled mountain of pants and shirts and jackets as if they’d been tossed out of a dryer. As I stared at the mess, my anger surged, pushed against my lungs until only my screaming provided relief. “What were you doing? Why did you do this to us? To me? Sometimes I hate you.” I stopped when I had shredded my throat raw.
I found nothing but aspirin-sized fuzz balls, faded receipts from grocery stores, movie-theater ticket stubs, and more than twenty dollars in bills and change. I turned over every pair of shoes and shook them, unrolled socks because I remembered my grandfather hiding money in his, and dumped the contents of his dresser drawers on the floor.
My hands were sieves filtering the life he left behind, desperate to find one chunk of evidence, of suspicion, of mystery. My neck and back ached from hours of being hunched over the detritus of a man I loved who, by dying, had become a stranger.
Because if Wyatt hadn’t died on his way to me, then where was he going? And why? And who was he?

~ My Review ~

You’ll need to grab your tissue box for this one, but don’t let that prevent you from picking it up, because it was SUCH a good read! Once again, I’ve left a novel languishing on my TBR pile for much too long!

Christa Allan is a new to me author, and I picked this novel up simply because my curiosity got the better of me. I HAD to know where Wyatt was going and why there was a baby gift in the back seat. Despite what her mother says, Olivia can’t believe Wyatt was going to jilt her, but it’s a cold comfort, especially when she has no way of finding out what he was doing, or who the baby gift was for.

As much as I was dying of curiosity, I found myself fearing that when Olivia did finally get some answers, it would be something of an anti-climax. Not at all! In this case, the answer opened up a new world of complexities for Olivia to work through—both emotionally challenging and poignant. And healing.

But that’s only half of the story, because Olivia knows that she’s disappointed God, and she can’t help believing God is punishing her for her sin—a belief that is only reinforced by her mother’s self-righteous response to her situation. Her grandmother, Ruthie, on the other hand, exemplifies grace and compassion—to the point where Olivia asks, “Are you sure this is the same God my mother talks about? This isn’t some new and improved God 2.0?”

As heartbreaking as this novel was at times, there are rays of light scattered throughout: Olivia’s grandmother, Ruthie; her friend, Mia, with husband, Bryce, and daughter, Lily; and even the reappearance of Evan, her boyfriend before Wyatt came along.

Well-written, and full of both heartache and healing, this was an excellent read.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review.

Release date:  11 October 2016
Pages:  350
Publisher:  Waterfall Press

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads  //  Koorong

~ Other Books by Christa Allan ~


~ About the Author ~

Christa AllanA 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 a New Orleans native, 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, their bark-crazy dog Herman and their three neurotic cats recently moved to Houston to be near (and hopefully not annoy) their children.

Connect with Christa:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Since You’ve Been Gone (Christa Allan) – Review

  1. Thank you for sharing Olivia’s story so poignantly. I appreciate your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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