(Review) When I'm Gone

When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Pages: 366 (kindle)
Genre: Women's Fiction
My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars

NetGalley Summary:
Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep.
My Review: 
I always think it's a good thing when a book makes me cry. I'm weird, I know, but...if something makes me cry then it's good.

So, I cried.

Luke is a newly single dad who lost his wife to cancer is is now in charge of three kids ages 3-14. I really kind of fell for Luke right from the beginning. Please note: this is not a romantic story. Luke is not some kind of knight in shining armor character. He is a real man with real issues and he is handling them the best he can.

Most of the plot of this story, however, is in the letters. The day of his wife's funeral Luke receives a letter from Natalie. It's handwritten with no address, but it's definitely from her. As the letters keep coming the drama unfolds and Luke feels like he's slowly losing his mind. He thought that he knew everything about Natalie and it kills him that there are secrets.

I loved how all of this unfolded. Each person was essential to the story and, while it got a little predictable for me, I really enjoyed watching it all unfold. The way that Luke and the children seemed to grow with each other was beautifully written. As someone who has recently lost a parent I can say with certainty that the grief and pain was written well. The little moments of happiness shadowed in the hurt were raw and real.

Learning about Luke and Natalie's backstory was equally heartbreaking and lovely. They had overcome so much together and it was obvious how much they truly loved one another.

The big reveal was, of course, done dramatically but nicely. That's about the time when the tears started for me. Finding out Natalie's secret and having everything come to a head was emotional but, like I said, well done.

This was an excellent read. Highly recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.