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on May 27, 2015
When You Went Away by Michael Baron

Taking another break from my usual SF fare and my target has been sitting quietly in my kindle for two years. One more time I looked and asked myself what this one was doing here. So of course I started reading it; and kept right on reading it to the end.

I don't mind Nicholas Sparks and I've recently read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. But this book nailed some of the feeling of hopelessness and despair, midst the driving pressure to keep sane while trying to raise a child alone. Add to this that his teen aged daughter had run away, just prior to the babies arrival and his wife’s death, and you've go someone who has little time and less inclination to be out looking for companionship.

This book adds an interesting touch in that his wife’s sister visits a lot. She looks just like her sister, his wife, and that can't be helpful. After taking time off to try to put the remains of his life back together, we find Gerry having a difficult time letting go enough to find a reasonable babysitter. But he knows he must get back to work; and he's buried himself for such a long time raising his infant son Reese that he may not have allowed himself enough time to grieve.

To add to this, when Gerry returns to work, he finds himself attracted to someone who seems so perfect; her only fault is that she's not his deceased wife and it's too early for him to start dating. Neither being too stoic nor to soppy his ruminations seem quite genuine as he tries to sort through his life. The only oasis he has is his son who remains forever his reason for continuing on. His daughter’s occasional emails, to let him know she is alright, have a dual effect: especially since she uses a forwarding agent that prevents him from locating her. He tries to sort through his life to figure out why she ran off with a boy three years older than her and vowed never to return. He blames himself.

Anger over his daughters estrangement and guilt over having feelings for someone else so soon and fear of forging ahead in life without his one true love; he's a powder keg waiting to be sparked to life. When something happens to his one anchor in life, Reese, blind rage might undo the work he started when he chose to return to his life.

There are a lot of things I can relate to in this book and it's well done and quite a compelling read for someone who expects different fiction and conflict.

Excellent Dramatic Romance, for someone taking a break from the usual; and just as great for someone who loves a good Romance.

J.L. Dobias
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Top Contributor: Bakingon August 27, 2012
When You Went Away by Michael Baron
After reading Michaels' soon to be released book and enjoying it I got several of his other books. This one is about Gerry who has lost his wife Maureen and he's left with his 4 month old son Reese. Tanya he hopes will come home back to Long Island, NY in time.
The story goes back to happier times with the family and then up to date where he's just hired Lisa to take care of the baby so he can return to work.
He spends his whole day with his son, watching him laugh, as he walks around the house with him pointing everything out, especially the pictures of his mother and sister.
As time goes on we do learn why the daughter has run away with 2 years of high school being a straight A student,... It was a surprise to him also when Maureen told him she was pregnant.
He is back to work and others in the family's life stop in to lend support and bring him up to date with their latest news.
Love how the talks to his son about the Yankees play by play action in preseason games.
His sister in law Codie has heard from Tanya and they confide in one another.
The journal Maureen had given him one year was going to be put to good use...like how he uses it to move on with his life at the same time recording his thoughts and feelings about how his daughter had changed their lives.
He intellectually connects with a lady in his office where her job for the Christmas catalog is to pitch ideas at him and they discuss why they might work or might not. He's agreed to have dinner with her and this will be the first time since he lost his wife.
Love how everything is brought full circle by the end of the book, didn't see it coming...
Because there are only a few main characters you can get to know them very well. There are others that come into play and they are both good listeners and sometimes like to be listened to as well.
Love the honesty, deepness of the topics discussed and the loving nature he has for all that he comes into contact with.
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on May 27, 2016
This book is one of those heart string tuggers. If you've ever lost someone close to you, you'll share in the pain Gerry feels. Gerry doesn't just lose one person he loses two but in different ways. I thought that Gerry's struggle was admirable because though he was suffering he made it his duty to be dedicated to his new born son. His love as a parent is evident in the way he holds out hope for the return of his teenage daughter. This book was an all around home-hitting story. The challenges Gerry faces are not uncommon from challenges people face nowadays. His outlook on life and the bleakness that surrounds him clash in a wondeful way. The story is uplifting in unexpected ways and I found myself glued until the very end. I won't forget the way Gerry never gave up because it reminded me to never give up no matter what happens.
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on April 14, 2015
I just watched Furious 7 this past weekend so I can still here the closing theme song of the movie, "See You Again" in my mind...

The song's overall message also finds its way in this beautiful story by Michael Baron. Say, the line "every road you take will always lead you home" both applies to Maureen who is on her way to her eternal home, and to Tanya, who found her way home again after a long time.

"...I'll tell you all about it when I see you again." Gerry wrote all the things he wanted to say to Tanya in a journal, which he gave to her to read when she came home.

The story is both happy and sad; it's an ending and a beginning. Gerry held on, and he was rewarded.

I have to say this though... Gerry overthinks things. Under normal circumstances, I'll think it unnatural for a man to overthink. But Gerry went through terrible things as a husband and as a father. Maybe it's a natural reaction, or a resulting tendency. I'm letting it pass, with the author a man himself, he surely knows what he's doing.

This book is highly recommended for people who are going through difficult times. Surely, there will be something inspirational and uplifting that can be found here.
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on May 2, 2011
When You Went Away is the story of Gerry and what happened in his life after his teenage daughter ran way and his wife died suddenly leaving him with a one month old son. This book takes you through his struggle with grief,loss and and his effort to forge a new life as a single parent.

The author gives us an incite into the relationship between Gerry and his daughter in the journal he wrote for her. I could not put this book down. I just had to keep reading through the sad parts and I kept rooting for him hoping that things would work out and that he would find happiness. The character Gerry was human, real,flawed and interesting.

Grab a few tissues and enjoy. I loved it!
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on April 8, 2011
Very nicely done. A little too much of baseball but coming from a mans perspective I think it probably rings true. I have wondered what my husband would have done in a situation leaving him with an infant to raise alone, not even with the run away daughter put into the mix. Probably the only thing different would be his child would be in the computer room as my husband doesn't watch sports at all. I was glad he came to his right mind and went back to his girl friend as she wasn't really responsible for an accident that could have happened to anyone. As for the daughter and her returning home I am not so sure I would have been so inviting but in this story it all comes together from the stand point of her missing her mother. She really sounds like a spoiled brat but maybe by running away she has come to appreciate the things she threw away. I have read another book by this author and he does have a gift both with writing and food. Waiting for more.
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on April 6, 2011
If you read this book expecting anything to ever actually happen, you will be disappointed. There is very little action in the book; just the musings of a recent widower. The passages with Gerry and Reese are very sweet and heartwarming as are the memories he shares of his wife, but the story lines with his girlfriend, Ally, and his daughter, Tanya, are weak and unrealistic. I am glad I downloaded this book for free.
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on September 2, 2016
The story was OK. There were 2 things that didn't really add to the main story line. One, the main character Gerry, loves football (or was it baseball?) and there was way too much describing game plays and players which didn't further the story. Second, the letters from the daughter were way to long and tedious to read through and did little to add to the main idea of the story. I found myself skipping these parts. The whole story was a bit disjointed with issues going on with several people and little character development.
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on October 28, 2013
I'm one of those readers that literally will read until I complete a book if it catches my attention immediately. I finished this book in a day and a half. This is a warm, loving, sad, happy,touching and hope-giving story. Michael Baron has found the key to tapping into your feelings. I found myself thinking- "I've felt that way or Oh My I've done that!" Whether it's joy, indignation, passion, anger, jealousy or compassion...he has molded it into a believable experience that seems to be EXACTLY that...something real - an experience not a story. You don't have to try and figure out a plot or think of how you might apply information into your daily life. "When You Went Away" is a story about life and rising above, bouncing back! If you want a weekend read about everyday trials and joys, family, friends, laughter and tears-you will love this book. I did. Great job Michael Baron! I am looking forward to reading more of your books. Please don't go away...<grin>
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on July 9, 2011
For the most part, I liked this book. The characters were likable, the prose was easy to read, and the dialogue and plot were interesting and believable. I liked the fact the hero, a widower left with an infant son, wrote a journal for his runaway daughter. At times I felt like it would be a perfect book for teenage females to read before getting infatuated with the wrong boy. The story did drag a little in the middle, but overall it worked.

My complaints about the book had to do with the sports references, which got a little detailed for my taste--detail that was not necessary for the story. (If you're a sports fan, namely a Yankees fan, you might like it. I'm not. When people talk sports, my eyes glaze over.) I finally began skimming them and skipping over them.

As to writing style, etc., it felt like a cross between a Nicholas Sparks novel and that book by Patterson, 'Suzzane's Diary for Nicolas' --HOWEVER-- that said, Barron does not get overly excessive with dragging out the exposition as does Sparks. Barron carries on about a topic (such as the hero's career or the Yankees team) for a few paragraphs at a time, not pages. He also switches scenes and moves the story on at a reasonable pace.

He does a nice job of describing life with a growing baby. Although I think he could have cut some of this, too, and still told the tale, the way he describes the hero's daily life made me feel like I was relaxing right there with him/them in his house and experiencing exactly what they were. I would've liked a few more reminders of physical characteristics (hair color, eye color) sprinkled throughout, though.

This is not an edge-of-your-seat suspense or a heated romance, so if you're looking for that, look elsewhere. There are a couple of love scenes, but they are not graphic. This IS a nice, easy and emotion evoking read to kick back and relax with. It will stir your heart and give you food for thought.
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