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“Nothing done is ever wasted” – Review of “Gone” by Julie Elizabeth Powell

GoneGone” by Julie Elizabeth Powell

I gave it a: 4 of 5 stars

I was given a free copy of “Gone” through an author review group in exchange for an honest review. “Nothing done is ever wasted” – an absolutely brilliant quote from “Gone” by Julie Elizabeth Powell helped make my reading experience a surprising one since I’m not typically a fan of fantasy. I normally read contemporary romance, suspense and historicals.

The main character, Charley Woods is an executive and mother of a girl who suffered brain damaged as an infant and had to be put in a permanent care facility for which Charley feel miserably guilty. Charley wishes her daughter had died, or that she could end the daughter’s life herself, and because of these horrible thoughts, Charley is ridden with a life-time of remorse. Which makes one wonder what she has left to offer her husband and other children?

But Powell doesn’t explore those feelings as much as I would have liked, even at the end. Heart sick with her sorrow, Charley sits down in a chair in her office and basically dies. Her spirit leaps into the throes of a NDE-Near Death Experience. This subject is something my own husband explores extensively, so I’m totally versed with the experiences of other people who have died and been revived. In this case, the parallels ended at Powell’s fantasy version of what happens to real people who experience NDE’s.

Powell’s character Charley is transported in her NDE to an Alice-in-Wonderland/Wizard-of-Oz/Shrek-esk fantasy world where she find the spirit of her brain-dead daughter. Powell does spend a lot of time painting vivid imagery of her afterlife world, and most are enjoyable. Charley is not alone in her experience. She has guides much like the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar and Toto. Through her experiences in the Avalon-titled fantasy world, Charley is unbelieving, filled with self-doubt, guilt and denial, and must face trials of her faith before she can leave.

But the book has problems. It was very long and challenging to read. I was confused a lot of the time. There are unnecessarily drawn-out passages of description of Powell’s fantasy world and uninspiring, everyday dialogue, and lengthy narrative explanations of what was going on from the fantasy characters. And some of Powell’s structural issues with her writing were difficult to ignore. If you are a fan of fantasy/sci-fi/NDE’s, you might find this book interesting.

Because Powell’s book contains a wonderful message of hope, enduring life with faith, learning to love and forgive others and yourself, and overcoming self-persecution, it was saved from getting the 3-Star review I might have given.  

Do you have an “attitude of gratitude?”

The season of giving thanks is fast approaching and I wanted to pause to express mine. During the “Gratitude Give-A-Way,” I’ve learned what you as readers, are most grateful for, and I’m thankful for your heartfelt reminders. For without a grateful heart, we would not be found on the path to true happiness. On my path I have encountered wonderful people who continue to lift me up, to mentor me. They make sure I trudge forward, not looking back, and put one foot after the other as I continue to walk the journey of life, yet in return they ask nothing.
Below is my gratitude list. I’d love it if you sent me yours.
  • First and foremost, I must express my gratitude to God for my life and the beauties of the earth. A great man once said, “how much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man.” i

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  • Family history has always been important to me, bringing me close to my roots for which I owe my life – literally. I’ll write future posts about my family history work and what I’ve uncovered.
  • I’m grateful for a loving, caring, loud and ruckus family while growing up. I’m especially thankful for parents who adored me and spoiled me relentlessly.
  • I even grateful to be the younger sister to four older brothers. I know what you’re thinking. How can she be grateful for four older brothers? It was hard to welcome their teasing and their playful torment, but that showed their affection.
  • I’m grateful to have grown up in a very, very small town where it could snow from September to July. But I could honestly say I walked uphill both ways to and from school in the snow. Beat that if you can.
  • I recognize the good times we shared and appreciate warm family ties with my brothers as adults.
  • I love my brothers, their wives, their children and their children’s children.
  • I’m thankful for the love of a good man who has reaffirmed daily for the past thirty one years, that he loves me and chooses to ignore or appreciate my phobias and antics, my stubbornosity.
  • I shall be forever grateful for his strength, because he kept me moving when I wanted to throw my hands up in aggravation or run for the beach shouting, “Life’s unfair.”
  • And yes, even though our life has been anything but smooth seafaring, we’ve negotiated troubled waters with faith, finding a safe harbor in each other.
  • My thirty year old son has been both the joy of my life and my greatest sadness. I’m still proud of him and what he has accomplished. He still tells me he loves me. What more can a mother ask?
  • My talents, though not great when compared with others, are none-the-less mine and what I have accomplished with them, I shall be forever grateful. It still amazes me I have written a book and it’s published for the world to see.
  • I’m grateful for the efforts of my mentors – those fabulous teachers who took raw writing talent and helped mold it. Toni, Shelly, Beth, Paul, Tim, and various other mentors who are far too many to name. I write because I have to – it fulfills me and lets me express my gratitude in words.
  • I’m thankful for music. It has been a source of happiness my whole life. One of the best thing my parents ever did for me was buy me a little record player and happy, upbeat children’s songs on old 78 records. When I was six years old, I wanted to be Julie Andrews. This obsession with music has served me well learning to play the piano and singing. I can usually answer my husband’s questions in the form of a line from a song and still enjoy sharing music in choirs today.
  • I share my appreciation with my readers in the form of a give-a-way this Thanksgiving season. Without readers, what would authors do? Write menus for local restaurants?
I don’t know if you’re like me and author Aldous Huxley who wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”ii  I hope at this season, I might inspire you to generously express your attitude of gratitude. “We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful.”iii
Thank you so very much for coming to my blog to share in my gratitude for the season. May yours be a blessed one as you remember to share gratitude for the good, the bad, the unattractive and the beautiful. Everything we pass through adds to our character. Express it in your own way.
I’ll end with the words of one of my favorite hymns: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” iv
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise

Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 263.

ii Aldous Huxley, Themes and Variations (1954), 66.

iii http://www.lds.org/topics/gratitude

iv http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Thou_Fount_of_Every_Blessing

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