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WHEN I’M GONE

Lake Union

March 2016

After Luke Richardson loses his wife of sixteen years to cancer, he resigns himself to a life without her in it. Until her first letter arrives…

Dead is dead. At least that’s what Luke has always told himself. Yet somehow, every morning since Natalie’s funeral, he awakens to a new letter from his very dead wife.

He’s not delusional, these aren’t ghost letters—they are notes, thoughts and plans written by his wife Natalie in the year before she died. Just who mails them is a mystery but he doesn’t care how they get through the mail slot in the front door. He only cares that they are comforting and allow him to put off saying goodbye a little longer. They also help him transition into life as a single father to their three growing kids.

Then the name of a mystery man starts popping up in Natalie’s letters. A quick search of her phone records shows that this man is the last person to speak to her on the day she died. Luke tells himself it’s just a strange coincidence, that there is no reason to doubt the fidelity of his deceased wife. Until his fourteen-year-old son claims to have evidence that he is not actually Luke’s biological child. Suddenly denial is not an option.

What was Natalie hiding? The search for answers only leads to more questions and the more secrets Luke uncovers, the more he doubts he ever really knew his wife at all. As he seeks the truth about his wife’s past, Luke’s present begins to crumble. He has to make a choice: lose himself in Natalie’s letters or find a new way of living—without her.

31 thoughts on “WHEN I’M GONE

  1. Beth says:

    After reading Wreckage, I “ran” to Amazon to find your other books. Disappointed there weren’t any, all I can say is please finish Beyond asap! (And thank you for Wreckage.)

  2. Lynda says:

    I wrote an Amazon review. I loved the book, what took you so long to write novels? This debut was a stunner and I like what you posted on Beyond so hurry!

  3. Veronica L Pavan says:

    I wrote on your Facebook page how I loved “Wreckage”. I am an avid reader and can honestly say this is the best book I have read in a long time and can hardly wait for “Beyond”. I feel I will be reading your books as they are released in the future. Absolutely fantastic.

  4. Elise in Austin says:

    Loved your novel Wreckage! It seemed I was on the island with the characters. Fabulous writing and intrigue. Can’t wait for the next book. Elise in Austin.

  5. Elise, Austin TX says:

    Loved your novel Wreckage! It seemed I was on the island with the characters. Fabulous writing and intrigue. Can’t wait for the next book.

  6. Terri Sage, San Antonio, TX says:

    I have bought a great deal of books from the list Amazon creates monthly of new authors, and have really enjoyed almost every one of them, but none of them even begins to compare to your amazing novel! Many of the other authors I have enjoyed told an interesting story, but the quality of the writing showed inexperience. Wreckage is masterfully written and you have left me wanting more. I am thrilled to find out you have your next book in the works, and can’t wait for its release! I can honestly say there is no way you could write fast enough for me. I’m guessing a new book a month is too much to ask. ; ) Thank you so much (to you and your family) for taking the time to produce, and share, this wonderful story (and hopefully many more) with all of us!

  7. Wendy Pence says:

    I write for a blog (Beauty Brite) through which I received an ARC of When I’m Gone to read. All I can say is … WOW!!! There are not enough stars on any rating scale that can adequately convey how much I loved this book. Couldn’t put it down! I started it the night before my daughter’s birthday sleepover and my heart hurt to have to put it down to go to bed so I wasn’t a zombie when her friends arrived for the party. As soon as the girls went to the media room to do their thing I returned to the book and read until my eyes couldn’t stay open any longer. Again, I was devastated to put it down for something as menial as sleep. That night my husband’s snoring defeated my sorely-needed efforts to sleep for hours, but I resisted the urge to leave the bedroom to read because I was so exhausted I knew I wouldn’t be able to really comprehend anything. The next morning, after making my daughter and her friends breakfast, I beat feet for the couch to finish the book. Though I sorely needed a nap, I resisted until I read every last word. When I was done I tried to take a nap, but was so affected by the story that it took me over an hour to fall asleep. I say all of this to tell you that a great book is worth overcoming any obstacle to read. This book is great! Better than great. It’s perfect. Please, keep writing because I have a feeling you may, given time, become such a great prolific author!!! I am off now to read Wreckage and will be following you to see what else you publish to keep me up nights. Many thanks for sharing yourself with the world in this way. :0)

  8. Richard Dahlgren says:

    Emily, I finished “Gone” a few minutes ago. Absolutely one of the best novels I’ve read! I normally read action, Balducci, Paterson, and Grisham stuff. Interesting story how I ran across your book. Next for me is your first, “Wreckage”.

    I connected with the romantic situations. At least three answered nagging questions I have lived with for 60 years. So…your words acted as therapy sessions. If possible I would like to exchange thoughts with you.

    Here’s a zinger, I am 78 finishing my second novel based on real life episodes. I’ve had enough exciting experiences to write a dozen novels. Writing is something I’ve done well since a kid. Never had the time to pursue the excitement of writing fiction until now. Providing for a family took up all the years.

    I can’t wait to start “Wreckage”.

    Richard Dahlgren
    Sun Valley, Mackay, and Boise, Idaho.

  9. Cindy Y says:

    Thank you for When I Am Gone. As a ‘rare sarcoma’ survivor with two elementary aged children , your book touched me in so many ways. I’m 8 years in remission but the thought of cancer potentially coming back never leaves you. Thank you for writing from the spouse’s perspective and giving us a sense of what the other side is going through as well! Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  10. Jessica says:

    We are going to be starting When I’m Gone in my virtual book club. I was wondering if you happen to have discussion questions like you do for Wreckage?

  11. Jamie Heinig says:

    I just have to tell you that I absolutely loved When I Am Gone and I really hope that there is a sequel…I have to know what happens with the characters. I read many books and this is definitely at the top of my list of favorites. I can’t wait to read more from such an amazing storyteller as yourself 🙂

  12. Jess says:

    I purchased your book on my kindle yesterday afternoon and could not put it down. I was finished within a day! Beautifully written story. I unfortunately lost my brother 3 years ago at the age of 22 to a rare form of sarcoma so I have felt the devastation. I cannot wait to read more of your books!

  13. Noni Bell says:

    I chose this book for my selection for my book club meeting. I really enjoyed this book, however, I can find no discussion questions for it. Do you have any??? I would really appreciate any help as July is my month to host the book club meeting.

  14. Heather Addison says:

    Recently, I’ve begun getting into audio books, and enjoyed both of your novels with audible narration. I highly recommend it I got so into the stories that it was hard to put them down and go about daily business. i couldn’t wait til I could return to my headphones. I am a writer also, and I see your work as a standard to strive for. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. I am eagerly awaiting Beyond.

  15. Kerry says:

    I have an honest question… I really enjoyed this book and the story reflects HOPE — Survival– HEALING- LOVE so many positives but I could not help but notice the reference to Luke’s lack of belief in God. I am just really curious since the book was in many ways inspired by Trust and Hope and so many “spiritual” things why this reference was noted a couple of times? I want to read MORE of your books and I guess my honest question is, are you an atheist? I would like to believe these characters did have faith!

    1. mlebleek says:

      I am not an atheist. I actually have a very strong faith but I thought the idea of loss is different when looked through this alternate point of view. Though I have a deep faith of my own I also believe that there are good people of all faiths and non-faiths, if you will 😉 Luke fell into that category for sure!

  16. Danette rogers says:

    Do you happen to have any discussion questions for ‘When I’m Gone’? Very last minute book club tonight!

  17. Carrie says:

    I loved “When I’m Gone”. My teenage daughter read it first and then she made me it. I finished it in 2 days! I really hope there is a sequel in the works. There are so many things we all want answers for. Does Jessie make it through surgery? Does Terry do okay with the kidney donation? Does Natalie have any more secrets? Does the relationship between Terry and Luke change with finding out about Jessie? Do Annie and Luke end up together? Does Brian really get what’s coming to him? Please let us know if there is a possibility of a sequel and in the meantime I will let everyone I know about about ” When I’m Gone”.

  18. Leia says:

    I love When I’m Gone. The twist plot is just oh-my-gawd. Amazing book but I’m dying to ask one question, what happened to Jessie? Did she make it? 😦

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