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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What We Leave Behind


Publisher: Audible Studios

Publication Date: 6/14/2016

Format: Audible

My Rating: 5 Stars It is said that our lives are a sum total of the choices we make, which inevitably leaves us to wonder: what if? What if we had the chance to go back and live what could have been? What We Leave Behind hones in on the fleeting moments and stand-out events that irrevocably change our lives. The book chronicles the life and emotional growth of Jessica Parker as she frees herself from the past and moves forward with her future. At sixteen, Jessica is managing the emotional trauma of her father’s death while surrendering to the profound pain of a failed first love. Jonas Levy, a twenty-two-year-old medical student, has abruptly walked out of Jessica’s life after an intense summer romance, and the wounds are still raw. Is it possible to ever forget the boy you first gave your heart to? Jessica eventually moves on, and in her twenties, becomes a successful music supervisor in Los Angeles.

She marries film producer, Marty Tauber, starts a family, and appears to have it all, until things slowly begin to unravel. The marriage struggles through a miscarriage and becomes harder and harder to sustain. With an unexpected phone call from New York, a secret from Jessica’s past comes to light. As the rippling effects of her betrayal emerge, Jessica finds herself caught in the firestorm of long-hidden emotional trauma. Thrust into a modern day moral and ethical dilemma, Jessica must face the pain of her past or lose everything she holds dear. Will she be able to reconcile old feelings in time to salvage her marriage? An honest, tender, and poignant portrayal of love in its many forms, this heart wrenching novel will resonate with any woman who has questioned her past and wondered what could have been.

My Review

Having had the pleasure of reading talented Rochelle B. Weinstein’s latest (2016) Where We Fall landing on my Top Books of 2016 List, an instant fan of this South Florida author.

I found myself quickly searching for her previous books, discovering her debut, WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND, now available in audio (6/14/16) narrated by Casey Turner and also available in e-book, and paperback. The paperback and audio make a nice combo; you will want to bookmark many quotes.

Powerful, and emotional, a poignant portrayal of love in its many forms, this heart wrenching novel will resonate with any woman who has questioned her past and wondered what could have been. Broken out in three parts we follow Jessica's life journey.

Part One 1972-1988 “The heart that truly loves never forgets.” - Proverb

Weinstein takes readers on an incredible journey of Jessica Parker, a young fifteen year old girl (almost sixteen) to adulthood. From first love, powerful emotions, grief, tragedy, love, and loss. The what ifs. The moments which change our lives, and the things we leave behind, but not forgotten.

Jessica resides with her single mom, after the death of her father. Her mom works at the hospital and she sets out to try and find her mom a doctor. She is still grieving for her father; however, pretends to be strong.

While visiting the hospital Jessica meets 22-yr-old Harvard medical student, Jonas Levy. She is infatuated. Jonas’ father, Adam is dying of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He is a big name in the music and film business. An impressive man and she becomes close with the family.

She learns so much from Jonas; however, nothing prepares her for the splattering of emotions he left her, to sort out. Good things would soon end, when Emily was returning from Italy and he would return to Boston. First loves. Painful and heart-breaking.

“And the good-bye makes the journey harder still.”—Cat Stevens “O Very Young”

She falls for him, even though Jonas has a girlfriend. However, once Adam dies, Jonas abruptly tells her not to come to the funeral, and they cannot see one another again. She is devastated.

Can she free herself from the past in order to move forward?

Part Two 1994-2011 “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." —Albert Schweitzer

Life moves on and she makes her way to film school and a job as a music supervisor with the famous Hollywood producer Marty Tauber at SixthSense, in Los Angeles. She is shocked by the connection to Adam. A protégé?

She struggles to allow anyone get close. She wanted to love again and be happy. It had been six years since her first love. Now her boss, Marty.

Finally, they start dating and marry. SixthSense was plastered across most every entertainment trade magazine. She was an expert in the field of music—the authority to hit songs and doors opened. She was finding fulfillment with her career, husband and child.

She finds it difficult to rely on others. If she needed them, she fears they will leave. Then a tragedy. A loss.

Her mother once told her that decisions were difficult because by making a choice, we’re forced to give up something. But it is also about re-embracing the things you gave up. And it’s learning that there are some things, and some people, you can’t live without. Or can you?

Part Three 2001-2002 “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is part of ourselves; we must die to one life, before we can enter into another.” — Anatole France

Jessica fears of getting close, and having them leave. Even though lost, there is a spirit that moves and encircles and leads to a clearer path. Who had stolen her strength and dignity? The man who would make it impossible for love to be uncomplicated.

Soon she begins questioning her life, as a wife, companion, mother. Not trusting enough. Her husband seemed to want more, and she wanted less. It was easier to pretend that everything would be OK. No one wants to see something that they do not want to believe is there.

Then another shocker phone call. An explosive secret forces her to reconnect with Jonas. She had given herself to Marty, and trust does not come easy to her, from losing her father at a young age and then Jonas. The what ifs?

Haunted by the past and the guilt she still feels of her dad’s death. Then more guilt from her other hidden secret. Why couldn’t she be more like her mother who had overcome great adversity in her life. Her strength overshadowed any sign of weakness.

A simple memory could take her back. Thrust into a modern day moral and ethical dilemma, Jessica must face the pain of her past, or lose everything she holds dear.

She and her husband are separated by lies and miles that buried them from view. Now she has to choose between her husband and the man she always considered the love of her life. Was she holding on to something –needing and wanting.

“Sometimes you can’t always see love. You have to trust it is there. Learning the difference between real love and fairy tales.

What a debut! Ongoing themes, thought-provoking, and beautiful metaphors! With Weinstein’s vast music background from LA to Miami, as well as her gift of prose, well-developed characters, and human insights, makes for a gripping and absorbing tale.

In addition to being a talented author, a genuine person, she definitely shares my love of nature-and familiar places-Inspiring! Love her book covers. I think she has a hidden degree in psychology.

“What makes a great song and great film? That passion, that marriage between the melody and the story? Words tell a story. As in filmmaking, a tremendous undertaking from conception to premier. All parts are critical and as long as every person is as ardent and industrious with their craft to equal stellar.”

As our personal relationships: Trust, life, marriage. Everyone has to do their part to make a success. A collaboration.

A mix of domestic suspense, contemporary, psychological, and romance.

For fans of Liane Moriarty, T. Greenwood, Lisa Genova, Amy Hatvany, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Paula Treick DeBoard, Karen White and Diane Chamberlain.

Since I have read the third book, currently reading her second book, The Mourning After . Looking forward to her fourth book, Somebody's Daughter, plus hear rumors she is working on her fifth novel, a love story based in the Florida Keys (always my familiar favorite settings-can't wait). An author to follow!

Review Links:


the Mourning After
Where We fall

About the Author

I was born and raised in Miami, Florida amongst the chaos of three siblings: Randi, Robert, and Ron. I am the baby "R"of the brood and like it that way. After graduating from the University of Maryland in 1991, I moved to Los Angeles, California. I launched my career at the LA Weekly, where my advertising and promotion responsibilities included hosting film screenings at various studios around LA. After a colorful three years, I returned to Miami and became an Account Executive at the acclaimed Beber Silverstein & Partners. In August 1993, I landed my dream job through an ad in The Miami Herald. Yes, it can happen. For the next ten years, I managed the advertising, marketing, and promotion for every record label in the country at The Box Music Network. Ensconced on South Beach, our offices were the hub for musicians and record executives worldwide. Work consisted of meeting talented superstars and listening to great music. Fun, right? My husband and I were married in 1997 and the twins arrived soon thereafter. The Box moved to New York and I opted to stay in Miami. The boys were terrific nappers (don't hate me) and I sat down one afternoon and began to write. 110,000 words later became the raw, unedited version of What We Leave Behind. Sometime in between PTA meetings, carpool, flag football and basketball tournaments, writing freelance, cheering on the Dolphins and Heat, and volunteering at organizations near and dear to my heart, my second novel, The Mourning After took form. Both explore the human condition, heartfelt emotions, and conclude with a signature twist. Where We Fall, my third novel (Lake Union Publishing), is now available, and I'm so excited about his moving story set in my favorite place: the mountains of North Carolina. Book Four is making its way onto paper. Stay tuned for updates. Life has a funny way of happening this way. Doors open and close. Avenues await. One path leads to another. I thought life was fun before, but nothing is more fun than this. Read More






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