Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Day He Went Away

Rate this book
It took 20 years for perfectionist PR pro Kate Masters to fall for her best friend, Army scout Ethan Shepherd, but only seconds for their lives to shatter. When an ill-fated deployment cuts short Ethan’s life, Kate's perfectly planned future vanishes. Heart in pieces, Kate abandons who she is for a reckless and dangerous existence.

Army medic Nick Hunter made a promise to Ethan, his brother-in-arms, before tragedy ripped his friend away. Upon leaving the military, Nick moves to Ethan’s hometown, his determination to uphold his promise as strong as his need to heal his own broken heart. What he finds when he arrives isn’t at all what he thought he was getting into. Kate isn’t interested in healing, making it impossible for Nick to keep his promise.

To survive grief this profound, Kate must learn how to forge a new path, and open herself up to the possibility of an unplanned happiness.

A fictional retelling of a true story, The Day He Went Away explores the devastation of loss, the beauty in losing yourself, and the transcendent power of grief.

First published November 10, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jennifer Millikin

22 books1,261 followers
Jennifer Millikin is a two-time recipient of the Readers Favorite award. She writes contemporary fiction with elements of romance, emotion, and hard-learned lessons. Her characters are flawed and authentic, and some parts of her stories are more fact than fiction.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
296 (58%)
4 stars
136 (26%)
3 stars
54 (10%)
2 stars
16 (3%)
1 star
4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 121 reviews
Profile Image for Jasmine.
437 reviews708 followers
January 29, 2020
This world is evil, a seductress who entices with promises of true love and then curls her pointed fingernails and stabs the hopeful hearts placed in her wicked palm.

OMG. I'm a mess right now. I started this book as my usual bed-time reading at 12:30 a.m. and ended up devouring the entire story by 5:00 a.m. *sigh* Thankfully today was the last day of our Lunar New Year Holiday so I could sleep in sleep away my broken heart and wounded soul and puffy eyes (all thanks to the masterful Jennifer Millikin).

Being someone who's read Jennifer's Good On Paper and Beyond the Pale, I'm no stranger to her writing, to say the least. Both books broke my heart badly but they managed to piece it back by the end of the stories. Therefore, in order to better prepare myself (and reduce the possibility of being defeated by Jen's words), as ridiculous as this sounds, I gave myself a pep talk--something to strengthen my emotional endurance--and did pretty much everything I could come up with just to make sure my heart's well-protected this time.

Guess what happened? Oh wait, you don't have to guess cuz I already told you I'm a mess right in the beginning and even after all these hours (almost a day), my heart's still bleeding. *Apparently, my heart appears to be more fragile than I assume.*

Alright, enough with all those ramblings and grumbles, this book is, undeniably, one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever read in my entire life. And THAT IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT. This poem right here pretty much sums up Ethan and Kate's, the main characters', story:
There is a boy
And he loves a girl
She doesn't love him back
He doesn't care
One day she will love him
Until then, he waits.

And then the rug called life/universe/everything-worth-living-for was swept away for Kate and she's been lost ever since. Then came Nick Hunter, Ethan's best friend in the Army, who promised Ethan that he'd take care of his Katie Girl if something bad happened, and the rest is history that was when Kate and Nick held onto each other in the life after.

Truthfully, this book was a tear-jerker. I could barely breathe when getting to some of the most gut-wrenching chapters and later on, I felt as if someone (whose name starts with a J, clearly displayed on the book cover) stabbed me square in my heart AND TWISTED THE KNIFE SEVERAL TIMES when I read those parts where Kate was the most self-destructive. I meant, my heart broke once when such tragedy occurred, and now this!? Seriously??!!

Much to my satisfaction, how Nick and Kate's lives crossed path wasn't perfect, which I totally appreciated, but to me, what mattered most was how they both found a way to cope with the harsh reality. As an old saying goes, "Everything happens for a reason," and by the end of this book, I firmly believed there's a silver lining behind every dark cloud. So, please always keep in mind that no matter how hard life becomes, you are and will always be strong enough to conquer the aftermath, and you always have the power to reign your own life.

(To be honest, this review isn't what I had in mind when I first finished this book because I definitely didn't get that vision while my soul's wounded...) All in all, please go give this book a try and you can thank me later. Don't forget to get a box of Kleenex, scratch that, you'd better read this somewhere private so you can freely wail all you want...like I did. ;) Ugly cries guaranteed, witty comebacks welcomed, and WHEN you survive all this, you'll feel stronger and more empowered than you've ever felt.

Good luck with Ethan, Nick, and Kate's story! I'll be there whenever you need a shoulder to cry on.
January 28, 2020
I knew fairly early on in this book that I was going to LOVE it. I could feel something special was unfolding; I was unbelievably anxious for what might come. But probably the most important factor was the unexpected surprise of this new-to-me-author's writing. Let me just say, Jennifer Millikin's writing captivated me straight out of the gate. You know that feeling you get, that giddy feeling you kind of sink into when you and an author's writing just gel? That happened fast for me here and I just knew I'd found a gem in this book. I could not read it fast enough.

This book gave me full body chills. Truly, I had goose bumps on several pages. It just reached me, effected me, on such a profound level. The absolute euphoria of falling in love, the blissful joy of discovering happiness with your lifelong best friend, the knowledge that you finally have everything you could ever want, the pieces falling into place, the future set... and then he went away. The storyline this author crafts, these characters that are so distinctly relatable, the raw emotions she illustrates as they endure what transpires... it's nothing short of breathtaking. And I mean that sincerely as my breath was stolen repeatedly.

This story is far more than a romance. It's a story of healing and hope. It's a story of friendship and empathy. It's an absolutely heartrending portrayal of second chances and despair. But perhaps most notably is the author's remarkable depiction of love on these pages juxtaposed with the most harrowing portrait of grief. The grief is profound, palpable, relentless. A story like this will sear you. It's phenomenal what Jennifer Millikin delivers here in this novel, a course of events so achingly authentic and real. I felt everything on these pages, every bit of loss and hope and reluctance and despair. I felt their fear and joy, I felt their frustration and longing. I can't even properly describe my feelings right now other than to say that I'm feeling grateful I discovered this book, overwhelmed with all the emotions these characters drew from me and I'm simply in awe of the storytelling and writing of this author. I can not wait to read her other work because this was phenomenal.
Profile Image for Melody Kimmons-Allen.
95 reviews14 followers
October 10, 2016
****ARC provided by NetGalley****

I'm on the fence about this book. There were good things and some stuff I could live without. First, the cover of this book is breathtaking. It's one of the reason I wanted to read it. The plot itself is strong and it works but I'm not thrilled with the execution.

Kate and Ethan have known each other for most of their lives. They're best friends. Ethan has been in love with Kate for the last decade. He has made his feelings for her very clear and has decided to wait for her to come around. Ethan is also In the army. He comes to visit Kate for 9 days during his leave. Kate has recently dreamed about Ethan and can't get him out of her head. Now she's confused and is afraid to get into a relationship because it may ruin there friendship. I don't want to sink to deep into the plot for fear that I'll ruin it for other readers, so I'll leave it there.

I liked how the story played out but didn't care for the dialogue. It was a bit OTT and mushy for my liking. Also came off a bit juvenile for 25 year olds. I found it hard to think of Ethan as a guy. His character was soft. He said things I really couldn't imagine a guy saying. He seemed creepily obsessed with Kate. Kate was annoying and there was way too many unnecessary paragraphs that repeated her feeling for Ethan. As a couple, I didn't like them. It was just a weird dynamic between those two. It almost seemed incestuous because of how long they've known each other and their lack of chemistry. There was no heat or connection.

At first the book was in both Eric and Kate's POV. But when Ethan passes, suddenly its just Kate's POV, that threw me off. Why give a character's POV if you plan to kill him off 30% into the book.
Over all the book was okay, it had a decent plot. I just had a hard time connecting with the characters. Couldn't get into Kate and Nick, too much time was spent on Ethan, only for him to die.
Profile Image for Kari Hansen.
9,150 reviews55 followers
February 15, 2020
Kate and Ethan have been best friends since they were children and even though Ethan has wanted to be much more than friends for years he was willing to wait until she realized the same. That time has finally happened, and they begin planning their life together and the only thing standing in their way is his last mission before he leaves the army.

When tragedy strikes and he doesn’t return Kate is left with not only the pain of losing her best friend and the man she had given her heart to but also regrets that she didn’t realize he was her destiny earlier. She is floundering and unable to see a way out of the darkness that now encompasses her life it is at this time that Nick, Ethan’s best friend that he served with, enters her life.

Nick is determined to honor the promise he made to Ethan and that means helping Kate heal even if she is not ready and doing everything possible to distance herself from those around her. Nick is persistent but will he be able to show her that living a happy life with him would be the best way for both of them to honor Ethan?

This is a heartbreaking story of love, loss of healing. It is about dreams that can’t be realized and overcoming the pain to create new dreams and living the best life you can and the life that those you loved would want you to have.
Profile Image for Heather❀Kiss The Pages❀.
709 reviews274 followers
March 17, 2020
I've read a few of these books where the hero dies and then the heroine falls in love with another hero. It's basically two love stories in one and they tend to be obviously emotional as the heroine tries to recover after the death of her first love. I normally love them but this one fell short for me. I felt like this book made too much of an effort to make me sad and I thought it was overdone. The other aspect is that the heroine was only in a relationship with the hero 1 week before he went off to war and die. They had a lifelong friendship but their romantic relationship was so new that I just couldn't grasp the grief of losing 'the love of my life'. Most of the book is about the heroine's grief and how she deals with it. The second hero is there to support her but they get together right at the end and we really don't get to see much of their relationship either. It felt short on the romance to me and so I just didn't enjoy it much.
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,846 reviews294 followers
February 14, 2020
Remember the book The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros and how that tugged at your heartstrings and had a strong emotional hold on the reader, that is how I found The Day He Went Away by Jennifer Millikin. First off, I do have to say how much I am loving the new cover and have a cover crush on it and reading this story definitely left me with thoughts myself how I would cope if my partner died as like Ethan was to Kate, he is my best friend and though we have only been together the last 8 and 1/2 years, we have known each other for almost 16 years. The Day He Went Away starts with Ethan coming home from his deployment and staying with Kate as they usually do, but this time Kate has something to tell him - something that Ethan has wanted to hear for years. She is head over heels in love with him. Finally, Ethan's dream has come true and they spend a wonderful time together until he heads back to the war. While he is away from Kate the pair Skype until danger strikes and Ethan is killed in action. Of course what follows is Kate's downward spiral as who is she without Ethan - the one person whose been there since they were five years old, the one constant in her life and whom she thought was her forever guy. Enter Nick - this is the part that reminded me of the Last Letter as Nick was Ethan's friend from the military and he told Nick if anything ever happened to him - he had to promise to take care of Kate. What follows in Kate's spiral is losing everything from friends to her job, but the one rock through the whole time has been Nick. Can Kate allow herself the freedom to move on to Nick or is the ghost of Ethan and her memories holding her back from moving forward? The Day He Went Away definitely tugs at your heartstrings and will make you tear as I don't normally cry in books but found myself tearing up as I read the pages, so if you are needing an emotional release - check out today Jennifer Millikin's The Day He Went Away.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,072 reviews7 followers
November 13, 2018
dnf, couldnt connect. sorry.
Profile Image for Jane.
1,355 reviews65 followers
October 10, 2016
The following review was originally posted on my book blog The Book Challengers.

DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC from JNM MLC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The following thoughts are my own and have not been affected in any way by this.
The book will be officially published on 10th of November, 2016. At least according to Netgalley and Millikin's personal web page it will be.

Actual rating 2.5 stars.

What first grabbed my attention about this book, was the gorgeous cover. Then I read the blurb and thought to myself that maybe I'm going to read something similar to The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson, but unfortunately I was left somewhat disappointed in the story as a whole. I don't doubt that a lot of people are going to love the hell out of this story but regrettably I couldn't get into it. I hoped for more of a romance, but in reality got a story about a woman dealing mainly with her grief.

Grief is a very personal thing and I have no doubt that everyone lives through their grief of a loved one in different ways. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms and Kate's coping mechanism, at least for a while, is alcohol. I'm glad that Nick managed to get Kate out of her destructive ways, but throughout the story I don't think I really believed that Kate was all that much in love with Ethan. He was her best friend for the past 20 years and I have no doubts that she was grieving her best friend, but I didn't really get their romance. And if Ethan really was the love of her life, then Nick felt nothing more than a rebound to me... Maybe it's just me and other readers will head over heels in love with Nick and Kate?

I guess I couldn't really get behind Nick and Kate also because Ethan's still alive for the first third of the book and I, as a reader, actually prefer to read books where the character is interested in only one man during the course of the story. There are differences, of course, if we're talking about a series or a story that spans a longer time period (e.g. Scarlett's love interests/husbands in Gone with the Windnever bothered me), but stories as short (both time and page count wise) as this one need only one love interest for me to really root for a couple, for me to really get a feeling that they are right for one another.
Profile Image for María Alejandra.
1,062 reviews41 followers
April 14, 2021
Está bien conseguir drama, se entiende al leer la sinopsis, pero parece una historia de amor a tres bandas y el tercero solo está porque el otro murió. Es una historia de todo el sufrimiento que pasa ella cuando su mejor amigo y después novio muere, y su recuperación gracias a otro hombre. Yo no vi romance entre Nick y Kate, parece que él solo es un rebote.
Profile Image for iamnotabookworm.
402 reviews16 followers
October 7, 2017
I went to a funeral yesterday for a friend's mother. The loss and sorrow was so unbearable that I too became teary-eyed though, I have never known the lost loved one personally. Grief is just overwhelming and I don't want to think how it would feel like if I have to undergo the same experience. I know it's inevitable but I don't think anyone would be prepared for the terrible and excruciating pain.

The Day He Went Away is about the loss of a best friend and a part of your heart. Kate Masters just realized she's in love with her best friend for almost two decades, Army scout Ethan Shepherd. Ethan has been in love with her for the last ten years and Kate kept telling him that she doesn't see him that way. If only she had known that when she finally admits to loving Ethan, their happiness will be short-lived. She would have not wasted those years away to denying him her love. Ethan got killed-in-action on his last deployment before leaving the Army for good and Kate doesn't know how to live without him.

This book just about killed me. The pain, the loss and devastation were just too raw and real. I could feel them right to the marrow. I can feel the void and desolation that Kate felt. I can feel that I can easily be Kate in the same situation. A walking zombie with no desire to continue but to just fade away. With no hope that the terrible loss and the pang of longing will ever subside. As they all say, you will just get used to the pain but you will never forget it. It will forever be a part of you. Grief will eat you alive until you surrender to it and accept it.

There are five stages of grief and until you pass each stage, only then will you be able to find the strength to move on. But let's not forget, that it was never a prerequisite to face the unbearable sorrow alone. The same people who shared our grief could also be our saving grace. These people know exactly how our hearts were broken cause they too are trying to piece back their scattered pieces. This shared grief will feel less deadly than if we bear it alone.

This book has purged all the heartaches and disappointments I felt inside because I cried too hard like someone died. Reading this book is agonizing but it is also hopeful. It shows that our lives should not end or lose its meaning when a loved one died but it should make us meaner to fight our demons. It should propel us to demand more of life and drink it more. Gobble it up like we have never done before. Cry if you must. Wallow if you have to. Deal with grief the way you know how to but always know when you had enough. And when you are done, fight like you never had before.

I give the book five red dresses. Because after all the heart-breaking torment, hope and love, will be your redemption. The same two things that were lost will give you the courage again to face the world and wear red dresses of happiness and purpose.

Life, fate, the universe, they all broke the rules on you. When you do move on, the man will have to be beyond special.
- Jennifer Millikin, The Day He Went Away -

Thank you ebooksforreview.com for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Marbea Logan.
1,172 reviews18 followers
June 19, 2020
Such a heartwarming and very conflicting of emotions read. I can truly understand the overwhelming faction of grief. I've never lost a significant other,manfriend,or lover. I still understand how it's difficult to move on from a love so profound that your world stops and death would be better than torture of pain in the loss. The regrets are the killing point of your soul. The what ifs and should've would've could've moments are all that consumes you. Most people think moving on helps, but moving on doesn't help you heal from that hurt it only distracts you from getting where you need to be to live fully in your truth. Kate's character was real in my reading this story,because it's relatable. Ethan is a man who knows what his sacrifice to the military can become on any notice. He prepared himself and that's what's most important. Nick is what I call a friend in need is a friend indeed. Very beautiful story.
Profile Image for Kerry Richardson.
1,570 reviews15 followers
December 7, 2016
I really enjoyed this book. Obviously it was emotional a lot of the time because of dealing with a sudden death of a young man and grief, which is always a personal thing and is one of the rawest emotions to feel. I liked the characters and although I can see how some would interpret Kate and Nick being a rebound I didn't feel that at all. I think their relationship developed in a good way, they both knew and loved Ethan and therefore shared a very important bond which helped them come to terms with what happened and how to recover from it. It was well written and a very moving subject and I'd definitely look out for this author's books in the future.
Profile Image for Coco.V.
48.7k reviews4 followers
Want to read
November 11, 2018
💝 FREE on Amazon today (11/11/2018)! 💝

It took 20 years for perfectionist PR pro Kate Masters to fall for her best friend, Army scout Ethan Shepherd, but only seconds for their lives to shatter. When an ill-fated deployment cuts short Ethan’s life, Kate's perfectly planned future vanishes. Heart in pieces, Kate abandons who she is for a reckless and dangerous existence.

Army medic Nick Hunter made a promise to Ethan, his brother-in-arms, before tragedy ripped his friend away. Upon leaving the military, Nick moves to Ethan’s hometown, his determination to uphold his promise as strong as his need to heal his own broken heart. What he finds when he arrives isn’t at all what he thought he was getting into. Kate isn’t interested in healing, making it impossible for Nick to keep his promise.

To survive grief this profound, Kate must learn how to forge a new path, and open herself up to the possibility of an unplanned happiness.

The Day He Went Away explores the devastation of loss, the beauty in losing yourself, and the transcendent power of grief.
Profile Image for Louise.
381 reviews
March 11, 2017
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jennifer Millikin’s book ‘The Day He Went Away’ is a touching tale of loss and acceptance. It is an emotional tale that I would give 4 stars.

Kate and Ethan had been friends and finally decided to accept that they were more and made plans to be together. However tragedy strikes and Ethan is killed in Afghanistan.

This devastates Kate and she does not know how or want to move on but is forced to face things because of Nick, Ethan’s army buddy. Kate has pushed everyone away and really struggles to deal with the loss of Ethan.

A big part of this book is dealing with loss and the aftereffects of grief. It was an emotional read and well written.
Profile Image for E-Reader Addict.
1,041 reviews37 followers
February 8, 2017
The Day He Went Away is an emotionally gripping story of love, loss, and finding a way to move on.

Kate and Ethan are friends who lived across the street growing up, and have been the best of friends for twenty years. Just before the party for their 16th birthday, Ethan confesses to Kate that his feelings are more than just “best friends.”

There is a boy, And he loves a girl
She doesn’t love him back, He doesn’t care
One day she will love him
Until then, he waits

And wait he does. Ten years later, Kate is anxiously awaiting Ethan’s return for a leave from duty in the military. She’s finally decided her feelings match his, and for the first time they will be together as more than friends. Ethan is ecstatic, and they spend his nine-day leave making plans for their life together after his military duty is completed in 10 months. When tragedy occurs and Ethan is killed in Afghanistan, the bottom falls out of Kate’s perfectly orchestrated world.

Grief is a very independent thing, and no two people are going to mourn a loved one’s loss the same way. Unfortunately, Kate partakes in destructive behavior, pushes people away, and has an unsympathetic roommate/”friend” who is awful to her. She continues on a downward spiral until Nick - Ethan’s best friend from the Army - starts fulfilling his promise to Ethan to watch after Kate if something happens to him.

A good portion of this story is gut wrenching. Reading how hopeless Kate feels after losing her future was so emotional. But watching her, slowly, come back to life through the efforts of Nick was uplifting. As Nick gently urges Kate to step out of her comfort zone and build a new life, with a different future, you feel hopeful for Kate’s chances to have a happy life. With Nick by her side, she finally feels like she has an ally in her grief.

Shared grief is half the sorrow.

I can’t think of too many other books that made me feel so raw, but then pulled me up, leaving me feeling hopeful. I generally like books to have more of a happy-ever-after ending as opposed to the happy-for-now conclusion The Day He Went Away gave us, but the more I think about it I believe the way it ended was for the best. And while I was a little nervous about the writing because of the way the first couple of chapters with Kate’s inner dialog began (repeating the same things over and over), I was so pleased that once other characters were brought in, that stopped.

Ms. Millikin has written an emotionally compelling story, the effects of which are still with me several days after reading it. I am frequently brought to tears when I read, but I don’t often continue to think about a story after I’ve finished it. I loved how flawed Kate became, I loved Nick and his dogged determination to keep a promise, I loved the growth of the characters. I despised the “friends” who weren’t really friends. Even though this story was tough on the emotions, I’m so glad I read it!

*a free copy of this book given by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 3 books346 followers
October 14, 2016
After twenty years of friendship, Kate Masters is finally ready to tell her best friend Ethan that she has feelings for him. Ethan has been waiting for this moment for over ten years. They spend nine days together before Ethan goes back for deployment. Neither of them know he's not coming back. Ethan is killed and Kate loses control of her life. Ethan had made a promise with his brother in arms Nick that he was to take care of Kate if anything happens. Nick is finding it difficult to keep his promise.

In an Oyster Shell - A hauntingly beautiful story about loss and the process of grief. You will probably need tissues, I did.

The Pearls - This book was about love and loss. Even if you have found your forever doesn't mean you get your ever after. This book was really sad but well-written. It showed the process of grief in all its messy glory. This book was more than thought-provoking, it was emotionally charged.

Full Review: Writing Pearls
Profile Image for Linda Rea.
2,168 reviews14 followers
November 19, 2016
Kate and Ethan have been friends for twenty years and ten of them Ethan admitted to Kate he loved her but Kate refused to love him back and possibly destroy their friendship. Kate finally realizes that she loves Ethan and she can't deny it anymore she when he comes home on leave she tells him and they spend his ten days home in bliss. They Skype and talk on the phone and one day it's no more and Kate's perfect world is shattered. This story deals with Kate's grief and the grief of Ethan's family and how he sent his best friend Nick to keep an eye on Kate should something happen to him. This story describes emotions that make you feel them too and I love how the writer portrayed the grief each of them felt and how they dealt with it. I will keep my eye open for more from this author.
Reviewed on behalf of Once upon and Alpha
October 21, 2016
5 Stars From Sammy's Book Obsession!

TITLE~ The Day He Went Away
AUTHOR~ Jennifer Millikin
GENRE~ Contemporary-Romance-Military
PUBLISHED~ Expected publication: November 10th 2016

I was provided with an ARC/Review Copy.
Wow! Just wow. This book was so full of emotions. I couldn't put it down! It was a complete roller coaster that reeked havoc on my emotional stability lol!
The Day He Went Away was written well. The characters were great and the dialogue between them felt natural. I love that in a book. I don't want to give anything away by saying too much, so I'll keep this brief.
I will definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an emotion filled love story!
206 reviews2 followers
February 14, 2017
This was a beautiful story about grief and hope. The storyline was interesting and I loved the growth Kate went through. She truly rose like a phoenix! Some of the side characters I liked a lot less, like her roommate. She was just disturbing with her I am so selfish attitude. Moreover I hated the fact that when someone spoke, it was not quoted, so I got confused sometimes whether the person actually said it out loud or just thought it. My emotions got all over the place, because some moments were pretty sad, while the next page just made me frustrated. Overall it was a nice story.

*I was given a free ebook in exchange for a honest review
Profile Image for Lyryoazul.
11 reviews
May 28, 2020
Tissues on hand requires

I loved this book so much I cried. Make sure you have a box a tissues handy. I cried throughout most of the book. It’s a very touching and emotional story. What Kate went through, the grief, the struggle to move on was heartbreaking. The way the ending was left, I was left wanting to know what happened after the 6 months.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,944 reviews54 followers
February 10, 2020
[I received a physical copy for an honest review]

The Day He Went Away
by Jennifer Millikin is a contemporary romance that is guaranteed to tug on your heart strings. The edition I read was a part of her re-release that includes new chapters and an extended epilogue.

Kate's best friend since she was a child has been in love with her for 10 years and waiting for her to feel the same. When she finally accepts her feelings towards Ethan their future is cut short before it even begins. Kate spirals into a black whole of depression. She doesn't know who she is without Ethan. Nick was Ethan's best friend in the Army, and he had promised him to look after Kate if anything were to happen to him. Nick and Kate help each other grieve and heal for the man they both loved. Kate fights Nick at every turn but eventually she begins to heal and discovers a new version of herself. Kate and Nick find in each other strength, peace, and hope for a future.

"But the clock keeps ticking. Each minute passes at the same pace. Not for me. My clock stopped ticking when Ethan stopped breathing."

The first 100 pages of the book introduce you to Kate and Ethan's friendship and love. It was cruel torture to fall in love with this character who you knew from the beginning was going to have his life cut short. I was nervous how this would affect how I felt about Nicks character arriving, but he was just so easy to fall for with his protective and kind personality. I felt like I knew these characters and there's a 'revelation' at the end that hurt more than I expected it to. I honestly don't think I would have been as strong as Kate in her position. She crumbled to nothing and with the help of Nick and the others in her life who cared she was able to start piecing herself back together. At the end she takes control and focus' on becoming a new version of herself to survive her new reality.

"Our path to each other wasn't pretty. but it's ours and we'll make the most of it."

The Day He Went Away
is a beautiful story about dealing with tremendous grief and living on when you've lost someone you love. This is a clean romance where the sex scenes were not missed or needed. The emotions of Kate were so strong and powerful they bleed from the pages. I look forward to reading more books by Jennifer Millikin in the future.

Profile Image for Kate.
191 reviews57 followers
November 13, 2016
I received my copy of this eBook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I feel like I have lost a part of my own soul here reading this tale! Kate and Ethan have been the inseparable peas in a pod since they were five years old. They shared everything, from a birthday to every significant event in their lives, and just shortly before Ethan is set to go on tour again with the military, they even share their hearts more deeply than they ever have before. But it's a dream that isn't meant to be. No matter that Ethan has loved her, more than just as the best friends that they have been for most of their life but deeply and passionately... It's a dream that come crashing down around them like his helicopter out on a recon mission.

Enter Nick... He was Ethan's best friend in the army. He's even wrangled a tour guide duty from Kate, but all of this is before Zane came pounding on her apartment door at two in the morning to tell her that Ethan was gone forever. Nick knows how much it hurts, knows something about how to handle it, and he knows that he promised his friend that he would take care for his best girl if he didn't make it home.

If you want a good cry with the slow burn of a man who helps a woman through her grief and helps her to recapture her own soul while falling in love... THIS is the book for you! You will run the emotional gamut!

Make sure you have your tissues at the ready!

Five stars and two sobbing thumbs up!
Profile Image for Kari Beasley.
58 reviews11 followers
May 30, 2018
This book was amazing; sad, enlightening, uplifting, and empowering all at the same time. The characters; Kate, Ethan, Nick, Harper, and Trent are all well developed and all play a pivotal role in the story. I love how strong Kate is and how her stubbornness only adds to her strength, whether she realizes it or not. I appreciate how sweet and passionate Ethan is and the fact that he is so loyal and willing to wait for Kate to realize she is in love with him. It takes Kate 10 years after Ethan declares his love to Kate for her to reciprocate his feelings. During that time, Ethan has joined the Army and is headed to Afghanistan for his last deployment before he leaves the Army and returns to civilian life and Kate for good. Never I have ever wanted two people to end up together more than I wanted that for Kate and Ethan. Ethan's friend Nick moves to Phoenix and Kate agrees to be his tour guide while Ethan is deployed. Initially Kate skirts her tour guide duties. Finally Nick pulls Kate out of her self made hole and she starts living again. Kate learns she is strong and able to handle a lot more than she ever thought possible and finds friends in people she hadn't thought to turn to before and enemies in people she thought friends. She learns to lean on others in her times of need and comes through her challenges a stronger person.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
622 reviews1 follower
August 19, 2021
I very quickly became hooked on the characters in this book and the storyline.

It starts with the story of Ethan and his Katie girl. These two share a once in a lifetime love and their connection was something you could really feel, you just knew they’d be something great together. It’s a tragedy we didn’t get to experience these two together in the way their love deserved, it’s something I would have loved to have seen. This part of the book had a very bittersweet feel to it but is very enjoyable.

The book then becomes an attention-grabbing story of loss and finding a way to move on whilst still being in love. I thought this part of the plot was emotionally compelling and showed a lot of character growth for Kate as it continued. Nick enters Kate life, having left the Army and fulfilling a promise to his best friend. I really liked Nick’s character, he was very empathetic and insightful when it came to Kate and his kind nature made him very likeable. Helping Kate with her grief also helps Nick and in going through it together feelings start to develop.

The development of their feelings isn’t completely obvious, it’s a subtle development which takes the characters by surprise and matches the tone of the book well. The story of all these characters made for a subtle slow burn romance which draws out emotions in its readers. ‘The Day He Went Away’ makes for a sad and happy tale of love, loss, and growth.
Profile Image for Jessica {Litnoob}.
1,190 reviews88 followers
February 16, 2020
3.75 stars

This book was a moving, powerful, tragic tale about love and loss and grief and recovery. It’s something that no one ever wants to face, the loss of someone important and we live it real time with Kate and her emotions every step of the way.

Over all I loved the book, it’s not an easy read, it’s hard as hell to be faced with something like this. But also it’s moving when you do. Ethan was this bitter sweet POV knowing what was coming. Kate’s process made sense and you felt for her every step of the way. And Nick was such a sweet strong good person you couldn’t help but love.

My only issues were two but they were enough that it took me out of the story. One we get a good chunk of time with Ethan and then time with Kate grieving and with Nick helping. But we don’t get as much time as id have liked with Nick and Kate as a unit moving past their pain. It was a theme and we talked about it but it was more tell then show which was unfortunate. And then it’s both Kate and Ethan keeping friends who were clearly crap. It just didn’t make sense to me why they did it when otherwise they seemed like such solid people with amazing friends and family to support them.

Still it was a hell of a read and I’m glad that I got the chance to read it.

Thanks to inkslinger for the arc they provided me to review.
Profile Image for Jennifer Pierson.
11.2k reviews145 followers
February 16, 2020
I want to start out this review by stating for the record that this cover is simply gorgeous! Jennifer Millikin is a new to me author, and while I really loved her writing style, I'm still conflicted about the characters to be honest. Kate has been best friends with Ethan for a very long time, but lately, she thinks he's her person romantically. I just didn't feel it from them to be honest. Tragedy strikes when he is killed in Afghanistan, and she's a mess. I did believe that, but felt it was more so for her bestie vs. lover. I'm probably in the minority on this, but it's how I felt. So, Ethan's Army buddy, Nick, comes to help her, and after he makes her face some truths, they start something, and it feels like a rebound situation with the flow of the story. Not a lot though, because I still didn't think Kate was deeply in love with Ethan other than besties. Dealing with the grief portion felt realistic, but there was a tad too much sappy for me. I'm not saying that I don't do sappy, but not OTT. Of course, this review could just be because of my season in life, so I will give it another go when I'm much less fierce in the future. Who knows? My feelings could be because of some things going on! So, decide for yourselves rather than my opinion/feelings, by hitting that one click button! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Profile Image for Peta Benjamin.
728 reviews16 followers
August 15, 2017
An absolutely beautiful book about second chances. This book totally tugged at my heart strings and brought tears to my eyes on more than a few occasions.

Jennifer Millikin certainly tells a tale about the power of love, family and friends who are not always in your inner circle.

Kate Masters had loved Ethan since they were both five years old, she has only recently realised that she no longer loves him but is in love with him. Ethan of course has always been in love with Kate he just didn't want to put pressure on her by telling her and thereby ruining their wonderful friendship. They lived across the road from each other, went to school together and even celebrated their birthdays on the same day. He was her lifelong friend, until he wasn't.

Ethan was home on his last leave time before he finished in the Army, ten months to go and he was counting the days. He spent ten wonderful days with Kate and in that time she finally told him of her true feelings.

They were heartbroken when Ethan had to leave for Afghanistan, messaging, emailing and skyping as much as they could, until Ethan stopped. Kate had a bad feeling, Ethan wouldn't stop for no reason and when tragedy strikes, Kate's life completely crumbled. Enter Nick Hunter, Ethan's best Army buddy, he promised Ethan if anything happened to either of them, they would look after their loved ones. What happens when Nick arrives turns Kate's world upside down and makes her question everything she ever believed, especially about Ethan.

This was a fantastic read, thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review it. Will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.
Profile Image for Pam .
1,441 reviews12 followers
June 27, 2017
Where do I start? The Day He Went Away has to be one of the most emotionally charged books I've read in a long time. Kate & Ethan have been best friends since he moved into the neighborhood. They even share the same birthday. Along the way, fearless Ethan admitted his feelings to Kate. Kate was too afraid to try dating because she didn't know what she'd ever do without his friendship. Suddenly, she recognized her feelings for what they were & admitted it to Ethan. He had to go serve his last deployment & in 10 months, they'd be able to live their lives together.

This book is not a typical romance. I feel like it's more of a story about Kate's journey through grief & alcohol numbed emotions. Nick & Sarah are perfect supportive characters. Nick pulls Kate out & makes her see reality but only in her time frame, not his. Sarah functions in the background until Kate truly needs a friend & then steps up. Trent & Harper are sarcastic narcissists that only see things in the way it affects them. These are the first two characters I have actively disliked in a book but yet they were essential to Kate's recovery in their own way. This book is not to be missed. Give yourself plenty of time to read from start to finish, grab a box of Kleenex & dive in! Believe me, you'll be glad you did.
Profile Image for KDRBCK.
5,645 reviews17 followers
January 28, 2020
The Day He Went Away by Jennifer Millikin is a stand alone, raw and gritty read and tells Kate and Ethan's story.
It took 20 years for perfectionist PR pro Kate Masters to fall for her best friend, Army scout Ethan Shepherd, but only seconds for their lives to shatter. When an ill-fated deployment cuts short Ethan’s life, Kate's perfectly planned future vanishes. Heart in pieces, Kate abandons who she is for a reckless and dangerous existence.
Army medic Nick Hunter made a promise to Ethan, his brother-in-arms, before tragedy ripped his friend away. Upon leaving the military, Nick moves to Ethan’s hometown, his determination to uphold his promise as strong as his need to heal his own broken heart. What he finds when he arrives isn’t at all what he thought he was getting into. Kate isn’t interested in healing, making it impossible for Nick to keep his promise.
To survive grief this profound, Kate must learn how to forge a new path, and open herself up to the possibility of an unplanned happiness.
The Day He Went Away explores the devastation of loss, the beauty in losing yourself, and the transcendent power of grief.
Profile Image for Melanie Mason.
Author 23 books36 followers
November 16, 2016
This was an interesting book. I normally would have given it more stars, but I felt like the author spent more time getting me emotionally involved with Ethan, who is killed, than she did with Nick, the guy she ends up with. I understand why we spent so much time going through Kate's loss and her alcoholism and the way she coped. Loss is difficult for anyone to process and it is good to see the ups and downs of that process portrayed. The book is more about grief and how different people cope with that grief and change. For that I would have given it five stars. I wish I could have had Nick's point of view after Ethan died. It would give the readers another insight on how someone dealt with grief. We get Kate's and Ethan's POV at the beginning and then just Kate and I felt like something was missing. For that I gave it three stars.

It's a great read if you want to see how someone can completely fall off the deep end and then come back, but if you want any sort of romance, this really isn't for you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 121 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.