When I'm Gone by Jaxson Kidman

I'm going to let you in on a little secret about me. I read a lot. I mean A LOT. I've done over 450 book reviews in the last year, and there are another 10 to 20 in that time that I read and didn't review. As you can imagine, they all blur together, and only the truly exceptional authors and works leave an indelible mark on me. Jaxson Kidman is one of those authors.

But I have yet to begin to figure him out. It's undeniably evident he gives everything of himself to every work. His work is vulnerable. It's transparent. It's authentic. His pain, his tragedies and his triumphs are all there, laid bare for the reader to experience. Why? That's the part I don't understand. Why would anyone be willing to flay himself open for the whole world to see? It could be that it's cathartic. Perhaps it's a way of exorcising demons.  Some might say it's a gimmick to sell books, but anyone who has read his work knows that's not the case. What I do know is that his words touch lives. They validate the human condition, they allow us to forgive our own shortcomings, and they offer peace, hope and light when our own world is chaotic, desperate and gray.  When I'm Gone is a powerful book (get it here), and more about that shortly. But first, here is my five-star review. (And learn more about Jaxson Kidman's work here.)


What do you do when the past intrudes, pushing so hard on the present you can’t see your way clear to a future?  When your dream goes up in flames? When not existing at all seems a better option than existing mired in pain? When thinking about tomorrow is an insurmountable task because it’s all you can do to make it through today? Sometimes, one single decision, one solitary moment, one snap judgement can change the course of lives.  But what if the one you think you’re saving is actually saving you?

Every time I read this author, I know it’s going to be a spectacular experience, so I was honored to be able to read this book a little before its release date. And every time I think I’ve read his best, he surpasses himself, leaving me in awe all over again. Kidman hemorrhages his heart and soul into the words, the settings and the characters  until I’m so drenched in emotion I feel it in every cell of my being. It’s a holistic ride – mental, emotional, physical and psychological – and one that makes me feel gutted, ripped, wrenched and wrung out, but leaves me richer, fuller and more satisfied for having lived in this book world for a few hours.

Kace and Sienna are beautifully flawed, achingly human, transparently honest and hopefully optimistic, and their journey  to forever left me a little bruised and a little raw but calm, content, peaceful and inspired. These characters will forever own a piece of my heart and I'll revisit them again and again, knowing their story is one which will reveal new gems each time I read it. Kidman doesn’t write to entertain, or for the sole purpose of selling books. He shares the deepest part of himself in the pages, and in doing so, he profoundly touches readers' lives.  If you’re tired of fluffy, formula romance and worn out, tired tropes, if you want something authentic, emotive and uplifting, then read this book without delay!

A large part of When I'm Gone deals with the loneliness, hopelessness and desperation of suicide. We don't have to live long on this earth to have our lives in some way impacted by suicide, and it's still far too great a problem.  I was in my early twenties the first time it personally touched my life. I did volunteer work with a local high school directing plays that the teens performed for their school and the community.

My third year of volunteering, our third production was a play titled Silent Cry, a play I had written on the subject of teenage suicide. The main character was the popular guy in school - star of the basketball team, honors student, promising future, loved and admired by everyone, but a complete mess on the inside. He only saw one option for himself. About a week before opening night at the largest theater in town, Thomas, the student who was the understudy for the lead role, came to rehearsal completely wrecked, crying and inconsolable.  His best friend had killed himself earlier that day.  All these years later, i can still his devastated face and feel him in my arms as I hugged him while he cried. And I still ask myself, "Would it have made any difference if our first performance for the school had been a week earlier?"

When I'm Gone certainly stirred up some ghosts I thought were long ago laid to rest. This may be Kidman's most important work ever. There's a strong message to look more deeply at those in our lives and to intervene before it's too late. There's also the message to those suffering. There ARE other options, even if you can't see them right now. There is someone who cares and someone who can help. If you feel helpless and hopeless, before following through on a decision you can't take back, make a call to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them through the website here.  Or leave a message here and I'll reply just as soon as I see it. Please. Reach out. There is help, and there is hope. There are people who care. You matter. You are special. You offer something unique and precious in this world. Until next time, dear, precious reader

Huge hugs and much love between the covers,



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