Posted: 22 Jun 2016 12:00 AM PDT
REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
If You're Gone
by Brittany Goodwin
If You're Gone by Brittany Goodwin is currently on tour with YA Bound BookTours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Lillian White was planning for the perfect summer- spending every waking minute with her dreamy boyfriend, Brad Lee, at Grissom Lake. But her world is shattered when Brad mysteriously disappears the night of his graduation ceremony- the same night he tells her he loves her for the first time. After law enforcement dismisses the case, classifying Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn't have just walked away. Not from his family. Not from his friends. Not from her.
Heartbroken but determined to find answers, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad's past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship. Will the truth lead her to him? Or are Brad's lies just the beginning of the mystery?
He didn't come home last night.
My heart pounded as I replayed the message a second time. After waking up to my buzzing phone signaling four missed calls and a voicemail marked urgent, I expected to hear juicy gossip from Jason Hamilton's graduation party. Instead, I learned that my boyfriend was nowhere to be found.
"Brad said the two of you had plans after the ceremony, was he headed somewhere after he dropped you off at home? I know it's early, but call me back as soon as you get this."
"He isn't with me," I assured Brad's mom when I returned her calls. "But please let me know when you hear from him."
"I will," Mrs. Lee promised before hanging up. "And you do the same."
She wasn't as frantic as her message had let on, but there was an unsettling tone in her voice. We both knew it wasn't typical of Brad to stay out all night without telling anyone. Not anymore, anyway.
My mind wandered back to the Lions Port High graduation ceremony the night before- squished next to my best friend, Anna Redmond, in the packed football stadium watching Brad accept his diploma. It had been a perfect North Carolina evening; complete with a romantic, lakeside picnic that Brad and I shared once he was able to shed his cap and gown.
I snatched my cell phone off my lap and dialed the number that had lived at the top of my 'favorite contacts' list for the past six months. Please Lord, I prayed silently, let him answer.
"Hi." I heard the deep voice on the other end and opened my mouth to speak. "You've reached Brad Lee. Leave a message."
His outbound greeting sounded cold and unfriendly, which made me realize I had never gotten his voicemail; he always answered the phone when I called.
"Hey babe, it's Lillian," I said after the tone, clutching his silver class ring that hung on a chain around my neck. "Your mom has been calling me trying to find you. Is everything all right? Let me know where you are, okay?"
Suddenly, I remembered a detail from the night before and felt a rush of panic. I pictured Brad tapping on my bedroom window and saying those three little words for the first time. The words I had been dying to hear. Does he regret his decision to profess his love to me? Could that explain the radio silence?
I unlocked the screen of my phone again, this time dialing Anna. My thumb drummed anxiously against the back of the plastic case as it rang.
"Hello?" Anna's usually chipper voice sounded muffled over the line, assumedly lying in her bed with the phone sandwiched between her head and her leopard-print pillow.
"Sorry, were you asleep?"
"It's the first day of summer and it's only nine am," she groaned. "Do I need to remind you how to send a text?"
"I'm sorry," I lied. "But you're the one who sleeps with your cell."
"Yeah, yeah," she spoke clearer this time, although her tone dripped with sarcasm. "I didn't need my beauty sleep anyway."
I scoffed, but I knew she had expected me to laugh. Anna, arguably the most beautiful girl in our junior class, could look runway ready after cramming all night for a test and skipping a shower.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
Anna was a true best friend- she could read my emotions even through a subtle grunt.
"Maybe…" I sighed. "Can you come over?"
"Will there be coffee?"
"I'm sure I can scrounge something up."
"You owe me," she laughed.
"I know. Bye." I pressed end and clutched the warm phone in my hand as I attempted to sort through my thoughts, reliving every detail from the previous night. The ceremony. The picnic. The lake. The window.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Intriguing page turning read! Highly recommend this book!" ~ Stormy Nights Reviewing
"Soul-stirring ... Truly one of the most innovative voices to come along in a while. Goodwin has weaved an engaging web of deceit and intrigue that embodies not only her storytelling prowess but highlights her visionary filmmaking abilities in novel form." ~ Justin Price, creator of 'Future' SVOD channel
"I liked the mystery aspect of the story. For me Lillian's emotions were more prominent than the search though, but I was still really curious. I had tears in my eyes when I read about Lillian's struggles. The ending is intriguing and it gave me butterflies in my stomach. I love it when I feel so strongly about something. If You're Gone is a quick and easy read with a lot of depth and an interesting plot." ~ Suze Lavender
"This novel delivers a powerful message for YA readers that I recommend be shared. Not to mention, the amount of suspense is just right. Brittany Goodwin rocks!" ~ Amazon Customer
"Great debut novel and a nice addition to my summer reading. I am excited to see what else Brittany Goodwin writes!" ~ Madamelaprof
By Lynda Dickson
Lillian's boyfriend Brad goes missing on the night of his high school graduation, shortly after telling her that he loves her. Because of his checkered past and the fact that he's eighteen, the police don't take his disappearance seriously. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, there is still no sign of Brad, and Lillian struggles to cope with the "not knowing". Her friends resume their normal lives, but Lillian is in limbo. Who is Chris, the mysterious blue-eyed boy who seems to appear and disappear at odd times? Does Brad's old friend Lizard know more about Brad's disappearance than he's letting on? A book that Chris gives Lillian - on learning to deal with loss - helps bring normality back to her life ... in more ways than one.
The story is told in the first person from Lillian's point-of-view, with flashbacks to highlight her relationship with Brad. We see how his disappearance affects all areas of her life, and how even her personality changes. While there is the mystery of what happened to Brad, this is foremost a book about learning to cope with loss, mainly through prayer and Christian belief. I guessed a major part of the plot line, but it just didn't make sense at the time. Well, even after finding out what really did happen, it still didn't make sense and left me feeling ultimately disappointed.
About the Author
Brittany Goodwin is an author, screenwriter and director, best known for the internationally distributed faith-based feature films, Secrets in the Snow and Secrets in the Fall, which have both been awarded the highest honor of five Doves from the Dove Foundation.
Brittany lives outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and every growing number of rescue pets. She enjoys traveling with her husband and dogs, DIY projects, quoting John Hughes films, playing (and winning!) movie trivia games, and binge-watching Investigation Discovery Channel. A self-proclaimed armchair detective, Brittany is an active member of many Missing Persons blogs and Facebook pages, which inspired the topic of her debut YA novel, If You're Gone.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
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