Review: Every Time You Go Away by

Every Time You Go Away by Abigail Johnson cover shows a collage of things arranged in and around the title, like flowers, a cat, a girl in a wheelchair, and a boy sitting on the ground.

Every Time You Go Away
Abigail Johnson
Inkyard Press
Published December 5, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Every Time You Go Away

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, Abigail Johnson draws a searing and lyrical portrait of grief, forgiveness, and the kind of love that blooms in the aftermath.

Eight years ago, Ethan and Rebecca met, two trouble-making kids sharing secrets and first kisses in a treehouse, until Ethan’s mom returned to take him away. Each and every visit, his only goodbye was a flower on Rebecca’s windowsill.

Three years ago, Ethan left for the last time to take care of his mother, who’s struggled with addiction his whole life.

Two years ago, Rebecca was in a car accident that killed her father. She’s been learning to navigate life as a wheelchair user ever since.

Now, they discover if their hardships have torn them apart…or will bring them closer than ever.

Every Time You Go Away on Goodreads

My Review

The story alternates points of view between Ethan and Rebecca, with some chapters taking place in the present (labeled now) and some in the past (labeled before). While the timeline is never as clearly laid out in the narrative as it is in the book’s cover copy, I didn’t have any trouble putting things in some kind of order. I’m not sure I was always completely right about how I assembled the events together, but I think it was close enough that everything still made sense.

I loved the scenes in which Rebecca describes making jewelry. It was easy to feel her love for her craft and to picture some of the pieces she worked on. I thought it was cool the way her work played into the story with the different pieces creating or representing connections to other people.

Ethan’s interest in plants was cool, too. It didn’t really ever become as central a thing as Rebecca’s jewelry-making did, but it was still a cool, not often explored area of interest.

Rebecca is a wheelchair user and has been since the car accident that killed her dad. Because of the straightforwardness of the narrative, I found it easy to picture moments like transferring to a car or what it was like when someone touched her leg, and she couldn’t feel it. Her paralysis was present in the story, but it isn’t a story about paralysis, if that makes sense. I felt like the author did a perfect job crafting the balance between helping readers picture Rebecca and her environment and the impact it would have on her experience without making it seem intrusive or artificial.

I also really appreciated that there was more than one wheelchair user in the story. Amelia, Rebecca’s friend, mentor, and employer, also uses a wheelchair. This created moments in which two people could talk about their lives and experiences and offer two different perspectives. I loved that.

All of that is kind of background to the central story here, which is the romance between Rebecca and Ethan. While they both came to the relationship with barriers of trauma, it was cool watching them figure out how to navigate those things. I loved watching their feelings blossom and rooting for them to find their way to each other through the miasma of hurt and grief around them.


All in all, this is absolutely the kind of book I would have loved myself in high school. It’s sweet but pretty real about the fact that life deals hardships to teens just as much as anyone else. I really enjoyed this one, and I think fans of THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME by Jennifer E. Smith or LOVE AND OLIVES by Jenna Evans Welch will want to check it out.

Every Time You Go Away on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

I think the main characters are white. Rebecca and another character are wheelchair users. Ethan’s mom has alcohol/drug use disorder. Ethan is a neglect and abuse survivor.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Brief references to neglect and abuse of a child. Two boys get into a fight and fall into the mud.

Drug Content
A teenager drinks alcohol in a couple of scenes. An adult gives alcohol to a child in one scene, and that behavior is also referenced in other scenes. References to a boy witnessing drug use and even being given drugs himself by an adult (doesn’t happen on scene). An adult smokes cigarettes.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of EVERY TIME YOU GO AWAY in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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