“AFTER I’M GONE,”
BY MICHELLE ALSTEAD
PUBLICATION: SAME COIN – TWO SIDES;
DECEMBER 3, 2015
Synopsis: Gabriela ‘Gabby’ Jackson isn’t exactly what you’d call lucky. She’s lost a husband, a baby, and her best friend. After a failed first marriage, Gabby reunited with Casey, the college sweetheart whose marriage proposal she ran away from. Now married and planning a future with a house full of children, Gabby should be happy but lingering regrets about the life that could have been and tension over Casey’s dangerous hobby as a desert racer keep her from the bliss she craves.
It was supposed to be the last race of the season…
In a split second, Casey is gone and Gabby is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered existence. Hopeless, she’s desperate to end to her sorrow once and for all when Ian, her mysterious co-worker, offers her a chance to travel back in time and correct the biggest mistake of her life.
With her future on the line, will Gabby pay the ultimate price for a love that comes with an expiration date?
I would like to say that this book was nothing like I expected, but in reality, I realize that I didn’t thoroughly read the description before reading. Although I was shocked, surprised and at times, crying my eyes out – I loved this book. Gabby is 39 and has had a difficult life. Orphaned and placed with adoptive parents that had no clue about parenting, she has suffered tremendous loss by the time she is 39 – lost her best friend and partner in the line of duty, lost a child to SIDS and has been through a divorce. Luckily and happily she reconnected with and married her first love – who proposed to her years earlier, but she turned him down to follow her career dreams of being in the FBI. They found each other again and were married , but Gabby continues to feel the darkness and inevitable doom hanging over her life. Casey started racing dirt bikes after she refused his first proposal, and she has begged him to stop since getting back together. She just feels in her heart that her husband shouldn’t do this last race and is even visited by her deceased best friend in a dream, but he races anyway and she loses him. But then, months later, she is given a second chance. She can go back to the first time Casey proposed to her and change the course of history. The catch is, she will only live one year once she goes back.
So, let me begin by saying that there are several tissue-worthy moments in this book. I kept waiting for a HEA miracle, which there was to a point, bu not exactly the normal HEA. The beauty of this story is that Gabby is given a second chance, a do-over, which how many of us wouldn’t want? She loses the love of her life but is given a second chance with him, but only for a year. So, imagine this happening and knowing that this one person that you love most in the world, would be burying you in a year? What’s fabulous is, once Gabby’s character does go back in time 17 years, she still remembers her previous life, which brings so much more perspective and wisdom. When 23-year-old Casey is partying and being stupid with his friends, she doesn’t care. Not because he isn’t being an idiot, but because she is able to see the bigger picture, or I guess, pick her battles. By going back in time, Gabby also gets another chance with her best friend Jules – who quickly realizes something about Gabby is different and keeps pressing Gabby about what it is.
I loved all of the characters in this novel from Gabby to Casey to even Danny. Each one added so much depth to the novel and just enriched the storyline. “After I’m Gone” is unlike anything I have read and although – as I said earlier – it is very sad at times, there are also incredibly happy and beautiful moments. I did sort of feel like the first part of the story (present) was longer than the second part (during the do-over), and I wish it would have been more evenly balanced, but otherwise I loved this novel from beginning to end. It is so incredibly romantic and convinces the reader that there is definitely that one special love out there for everyone. Besides romantic love, this novel also serves as a reminder of how many people we touch during our lives and how many touch on our lives. I highly recommend this to any contemporary romance and women’s fiction fans, but have a few tissues handy!