Book Review | Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Beth Harbison Every time you go away cover

Book Description:

In New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison’s most emotional novel ever, a fractured family must come together at a beach house haunted by the past.

Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.

Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

This book was beautiful. It definitely focused on grief in a way we’ve not seen in other books.  The story of Willa and Jamie takes a new turn as the two main characters go back to their summer home, three years after the death of their husband/father, to restore the place and sell it.  Willa begins to heal as she purges the house of items that were Ben’s and gives it a new makeover with fresh paint and furniture.  In the course of revisiting the location where Ben breathed his last, Willa begins to see him, after he’s passed.  She and he begin to have conversations and then late night rendezvous.  And they’re not tacky or inappropriate, they are sweet and realistic conversations that a widow might have, if she had the opportunity to reach out to her beloved, very much missed husband.

Jamie, Willa’s son, at the beginning of the book, has a dreadful girlfriend who is desperately in need of being let go.  It is just too much -it breaks my heart to read about a young woman who is so unstable and needy.  Mothers and fathers, spend time with your daughters, so they won’t turn into this hideous Roxy!  Her texts, phone calls and incessant pleas for Jamie were unnerving, but sadly realistic. Eventually, Jamie stands up to her and goes to visit his mother, which is so necessary to them both moving through grief.

Throughout the summer journey of revisiting and remembering, mother and son become closer, and healing begins, and it’s with the help of a wonderful friend, Kristin and her daughter, Kelsey.  And the direction that the kids take as a result of “fixing up the place” just opens doors for more romance.

I loved the pace of the book, the realistic parts that made sense regarding Willa wanting to reconnect and have some peace on moving on, and I really enjoyed the moments where the author recounted Willa’s memories for us.  Working through the death of a loved one is never easy.  And I felt her descriptions and imagery was believable.  It was a sad story that dealt much with healing, loss and grief.

Caution: If you have an event you are working through, this may trigger some feelings and heartache, but it was very well written and sweet.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 ( “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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