I’m sharing the full “Dear Reader” letter included in EVERY TIME YOU GO AWAY. This was originally only going to be included in the ARCs, but I’m so thankful that my publisher suggested adding it into the finished copies as well. If you have already seen the ARC, you may have read this, but for everyone else, here is the full author note below:

Author Note

Dear Reader,
When I first started my publishing journey, a lot of sweet friends and readers of all abilities asked me if I’d ever write a book about a character like me, a wheelchair user, and to say the idea terrified me is an understatement. For a long time the answer was always no, a pretty, polite no, but a no all the same. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t think I could. There is often a lot of grief and heartache associated with disability, and I wasn’t sure I could bare to look as deeply into that mirror as I knew I’d have to.
Over the years I did try. I’d start and stop and start again and never let myself go there. Until one day I thought of Rebecca. And Ethan. And this very broken but beautiful love story. And I couldn’t let it go, or rather it wouldn’t let me go.
So I tried again.
It did hurt.
With Every Time You Go Away, I wasn’t just imagining a character and how different experiences would have shaped them. I have lived with a spinal cord injury, paralysis, and becoming a wheelchair user since I was seventeen. That’s not to say that Rebecca’s story is anything like my own—it’s not (please hear that if nothing else)—but I am intimately acquainted with the emotions that come with those particular realities.
But writing this book also healed.
Because like me, Rebecca’s (and Ethan’s) story isn’t about disability. It’s about love and loss, joy and grief, struggle and success, guilt and forgiveness, and a million other things that people all over the world experience every day. More than that, this book gave me an opportunity to portray the lives of people living with disability in ways they might not often get to see, ways that I see, and ways that are wonderful and full and rich. And hopeful.
There was a time in my life early on after I became paralyzed when I felt like I was just running out the clock, putting in my time and waiting, even longing, for the day when it could be over. It was hard to let go of the life I thought I’d have and to see the goals I had set for myself as possible or even to try to set new ones when I was reminded daily how much I’d lost. It’s still hard, but like Amelia says, you can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to be happy. That’s easier said than done, but the end? When you get there? When hard isn’t easy, but you’ve discovered all the new reasons to smile?
That’s a beautiful thing.
So to all the friends, to all the other wheelies and readers who’ve asked or just wondered if I’ll ever?
Rebecca and Ethan’s story is for you.
With love,


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.

Four 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.

Click to subscribe

Subscribe to my Blog

Get new blog posts sent to your email

Check Out My Books

About Abigail

Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and riding roller coasters every chance she gets. She is the author of several young adult novels including If I Fix You and Every Other Weekend. She is represented by Kim Lionetti at BookEnds Literary Agency.

Recent Blog Posts

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Leave a Reply