Everything We Left Behind Summary & Study Guide

Lonsdale, Kerry
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Everything We Left Behind Summary & Study Guide Description

Everything We Left Behind Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Everything We Left Behind by Lonsdale, Kerry .

The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Lonsdale, Kerry. Everything We Left Behind. Lake Union Publishing, July 4, 2017. Kindle.

In the novel Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale, James Donato wakes from a dissociative fugue six and a half years after his wedding date to learn that life, and his fiancée, has moved on without him. He struggles to come to terms with his new life as the single father of two sons and the constant feeling that he has to live up to the image of Carlos, the man he was while in the fugue. Can Natalya, the woman he loved while he in his fugue state teach him that he and Carlos are the same man, and that true family members do not forget each other or leave members of their family behind?

Lonsdale uses alternating chapters to tell James’ story beginning when he wakes from the fugue to discover he has been living in Mexico as Carlos as well as the incidents in Carlos’ life that led up James’ recovery from his dissociative fugue. James entered the fugue after he chased his half-brother, Phil, to Mexico because Phil had sexually assaulted James’ fiancée, Aimee. James got caught up in Phil’s meeting with members of a drug cartel and was badly beaten. He narrowly missed being killed when he was shot during the incident. Thomas, James’ other brother, believes that it was Phil who tried to kill James. For this reason, he set James up in Mexico’s witness protection program under the name of Carlos to keep him from being found by Phil or the members of the drug cartel.

Carlos had the sort of life that James had always hoped for. He ran an art studio and loved his life with his adopted son Julian and biological son Marcus. The boys’ mother had died while giving birth to Marcus but Carlos had found a new love in Natalya Hayes, his wife’s sister. When Aimee came to Mexico and found who she believed was James living there, Carlos’ life began to fall apart. Thomas and Imelda, a woman Thomas paid to pretend she was Carlos’ sister, both admitted to James that what Aimee was telling him was true. He had been engaged to Aimee in another life and that Carlos was not his real identity. Carlos sent Aimee away because he did not love her and did not want to have anything to do with his old life. After learning what his family had done to him he found no reason to trust them.

Because Carlos was afraid his identity might not be legal, a problem that might cost him custody of his adopted son, Carlos went to California. He wanted not only to find out if he was legal but also what sort of person James had been. If he was anything like the rest of James’ family, Carlos was not sure if he trusted him to care for his boys. While in California, Thomas tricked James into a hypnosis session that set of severe headaches and terrifying nightmares. He slowly remembered what happened between himself and Phil along with the beatings his father gave him as a child because of Phil. Phil was the child of James’ mother and her brother. Although Phil lived with James and his family, James’ father refused to allow the boys to refer to him as their brother and beat them severely if they ever did. It was finally James’ mother who brought Carlos out of the fugue by arranging for him to see Phil, who was in jail, on Skye.

The novel opens with James waking disoriented in Mexico as a boy he does not know jumps on his bed. James learns from a lockbox of information and letter that Carlos left for him that the boys are his children. Searching for a place he belongs, James sells the house and art studio in Mexico and goes to California. He hates Thomas because he believes his brother is responsible for ruining his life. He is uncomfortable staying in the house in which he had grown up and does not think that he can live near Aimee and her new husband.

James decides to take the boys and visit Natalya. He understands that she had been the only person Carlos had really trusted and hopes he can trust her as well. In her house, he feels safe for the first time but is soon made aware how unhappy she is because they had once been deeply in love. James tries to reach out to her but is not really able to do so until he sets things straight with his own family. After he acknowledges the fact that Phil did not really try to kill him and that the entire family treated Phil badly James is able to return to Natalya and his boys for a fresh start.

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