Michael Baron: When You Went Away

by Rachel Baker on June 12, 2011

There are few authors that I consciously say “Wow, I wanna read more of his books.” This happened last night when completed When You Went Away by Michael Baron…before I wiped away the several hours of tear stains on my face. I’d never read Michael Baron before, and part of my process for starting a new book and a new author is to make sure I have no preconceived expectations.  If I find I have notions of what I think I’m going to find in the story, I wait a few weeks to begin reading the book.

This book came to me via Untreed Reads, as a list of possible review books.  Though it sounded interesting, I sort of just put it off it hadn’t grabbed me.  Two days ago, while going through my unread list, I saw it, and decided since I remembered nothing about the promotion blurb that described it, I’d read it.

Many hours later, I realized I’d been crying…for just about the whole duration of the book.  Not hard sobbing, but sweet tears leaking out of my eyes – not the kind that blur your vision, but the kind that follow the same exact path and are slowly dripping off your chin onto the exact same place on your shirt causing a quarter sized circle of wetness on your shirt.

Has this ever happened to anyone else?  How did I not realize my eyes were leaking?

The simple answer to that is I was completely absorbed in this amazing story about fatherhood, grief and love.  The author forces you to focus on the protagonist – his wife has died two months after their son was born, his eldest daughter has run away prior to the birth of their son (and doesn’t know her mom has died). He’s been left to raise his young infant son by himself, figuring out how to find his daughter and mend that relationship, at the same time knowing for the sake of his son, he has to figure out how to move on with his life.

When You Went Away
was so moving and rich that I really wondered if this wasn’t autobiographical. It’s not, but Baron wrote a book that gets to the very depths of the character’s thought process and offered up very honest emotions on the topic of moving on when your world has fallen apart.

If you haven’t read When You Went Away, I hope you will – its rare to find a book as wonderfully written that tears at your heartstrings as this one.

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