When I'm Gone: A Novel - Emily Bleeker

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.

Though a lot of books explore the themes of losing a loved one, I felt that this book delivered incredibly well.


There was a huge subplot beneath the grief and Luke dealing with losing Natalie, a component with elements of mystery that left Luke struggling to find answers to questions he hadn't known he needed to ask. The way various characters acted reflected the information they knew and made the conclusion even more powerful.


I figured out the final twist only a few pages before it happened and was absolutely stunned. Though I think the secrets that were kept didn't seem incredibly realistic given the strength of the relationship between Natalie and Luke.


The emotions displayed were very real and I found it fascinating to see the anger and the regret Luke displayed. Often it's hard to get a read on how people feel following the loss of a loved one but this did a good job of keeping everything real, but also relatable. Luke's relationship with the letters Natalie had written especially were intriguing--his reliance on them contrasted with his occasional desires to burn them.


I also found the afterlife component intriguing and the way the author dealt with various different sorts of healthy and unhealthy relationships.


This book had me tearing up, at points had me in complete suspense, and kept me intrigued the whole way through. This is a solid book, more than just a romance.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.