Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: When You Went Away
Author: Michael Baron
Publisher: The Story Plant
Release Date: October 2009
Year/Setting: Present day, Suffolk County, Port Jefferson, NY
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Subtle/Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: None/Minimal
Michael's Website/Blog: www.michaelbaronbooks.com
As a person who likes her books with 'a shot of humor and a side of sarcasm,' I'm absolutely amazed to tell you that I not only liked this book, I loved it. This is a story that I wouldn't classify as 'romance' - although there's certainly that factor in this book. I would have to say this wonderful offering is about the one thing we all have a tendency to take for granted - family.
Our main character is Gerry. Gerry is a creative guru who works for one of those fun companies where they make products that you run to your computer and order online: cute, fun, humorous gifts. He's worked hard at this company for a long time. His wife, Maureen, is his absolute soul mate, and his daughter's name is Tanya. Insert new baby here. Tanya is a surly teenager when the birth of Reese, her new brother, is announced. Gerry is happy about the new baby, but a little anxious, to say the least.
Maureen passes away and Gerry's wonderful life explodes around him. Tanya has run away with one of "those boys" that we all want to keep our daughters away from. The only contact Gerry has with her is when she sends him an occasional email to let her know she's alive. Codie, his sister-in-law, tries to do the best she can to support him after the loss of her sister. Tate is Gerry's best friend who has his own problems. Ben is Gerry's assistant who is a witty character that I would like to have "seen" more of. (At one point he wants to give Gerry his head shot with phone number to pass along to the new babysitter so he can get a date). And Ally Ritten is a woman in Gerry's office who is slowly finding herself "falling" for the recent widower.
My absolute favorite character was Reese. Reese is the baby boy that Gerry has to now raise as a single father. The moments with Gerry and his son were priceless. The bonding of father and son over the Yankees; the ultimate rush when his son begins to crawl and walk; the fear when Reese gets his first injury that requires an emergency room visit; the pain of returning to work and leaving your baby behind. I identified with this because I'm a single parent who still stares at my wonderful child with awe, respect, and thankfulness. At one point, Gerry is outside a store trying to open a stroller. He's struggling, until another father comes over and helps him set up the horrible contraption. Gerry says, "I was starting to wonder if maybe it was my son who was built wrong." The guy laughs and says, "Pay it forward. There are plenty of others out there just like us." The author does a graceful job of telling the storylines of single parenting, divorce, faith, love, loss, and parenthood. He also has the extremely difficult skill of being able to combine tears and laughter in the perfect balance. It was truly a fantastic bit of writing. Enjoy!
Until next time, Amy
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