Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

Every Time You Go Away, By Rebecca Johnson.

We get by with a little help from our friends….!

5 stars

Every Time You Go Away by Abigail Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rebecca and Ethan: I soooo enjoyed having them in my life while I read this heart-stirring novel by one of my favourite YA authors, Abigail Johnson!

Abigail Johnson prefaces the story with a confession: yes, she is a tetraplegic, but this is not her memoir.

In her open letter entitled “Dear Reader” she shares that she never thought she could bring herself to share her personal experiences and the grief she still experiences at being confined to a wheelchair as a result of a car accident at the age of seventeen. All her dreams of becoming a teacher were shattered in one horrific instant. Johnson is the first to reject pity for her losses. She has risen above her physical limitations and forged a new life path for herself as a writer. Her first few YA novels did not focus on the subject of people with physical challenges, but in this story, feisty Rebecca roars off the page as an advocate – for herself as a functioning, contributing human being, and indirectly as a proponent for much needed mandatory reforms for wheelchair accessibility.

I adored Rebecca: her motto: no holds barred and take no prisoners! Atta girl!!

Ethan had a huge burden on his young shoulders: his mother was a substance abuser. The frequent times she would leave him at his grandparents’ house were the only peaceful interludes in his troubled life. Rebecca was the one person who made his hellish world bearable.

The touching relationship between these two – first as youngsters and then as full fledged teens on the cusp of adulthood – was enthralling. It was like living inside an idyllic time capsule: I hated having to put my Ebook down and get back to real life!

But Ethan’s moment of reckoning had come: either face the fact that he was incapable of saving his mother from her addictions and try to make a life for himself, away from her, or continue on the soul-destroying path of being her thankless caregiver.

Rebecca carried the guilt of her father’s death along with her physical scars every day. Her relationship with her mother had always been difficult, but now the emotional distance between them seemed unfathomable. And to add to her woes, Rebecca’s mother is planning to send Rebecca away to college and widen the rift between them even further…

The last few chapters took on the atmosphere of a thriller: you just had to know what was going to happen next!

This was a compassionate and often painfully vivid portrayal of two young people and their families in crisis.
Very well done!

My thanks to the very gifted author, Abigail Johnson, her publishers, and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Five out of five stars: highly, highly recommended!!!
(This novel is scheduled for publication in December of 2023.)

View all my reviews

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