Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review: Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen

If I told you I read this fascinating page-turner about a woman who spends the first half of the story in a therapist's office analyzing her anxiety disorder and the second half in a coma, you might think I was in need a therapy session or two. Yet, what lies on the surface of this novel is only the tip of a deeply, gratifying story.

About: Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowan 

Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It's time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something entirely different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear.

Before Helena can act on her options, there's a terrible accident on a Southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds in another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.

As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. Helena is ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

Paperback: 285 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (October 21, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1937178595
ISBN-13: 978-1937178598

Twitter hashtag: #AfraidGowen

Afraid of Everything is available for purchase in print and as an ebook at Amazon,Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound


Though I don't admit to feeling afraid of everything, at the beginning of the book, I could relate to Helena's inclination to give into her anxieties and hide from the world. Helena shuts out her newly widowed father, barely interacts with her kind neighbors, has little time for her grown, unhappily married daughter, no longer works at the career she once loved and has trouble opening up to her therapist. I especially enjoyed the character of Ruby, the therapist, who tries yet falls short of helping Helena handle her debilitating fears.

Then, Helena makes a rash decision to run away to Guatemala and here's where the story turns into something so much more. Helena thinks she is well while it's clear she is not. And, isn't that how life is? You're walking around in denial and then, bam, reality hits you. In Helena's case, that reality turns out to be a head-on collision with a truck

Now, Helena is in a coma. But it's not the kind of coma you would see on daytime soaps, you know, when the character lies motionless in bed while the drama unfolds around them. In this case, the drama happens inside Helena's mind. I was reminded how coma patients often claim to be more aware than they appear. Helena enters a dreamworld in which she encounters a being that must be her guardian angel identified as Coriander, like the spice and with a spicy personality. Helena exists in a beautiful, peaceful world far from the the life she was leading, though she is alone and lonely. In an uplifting scene, she meets with her recently deceased mother who also guides her on how to overcome her anxieties.

There's a point when there's doubt if Helena will wake and yet, it sets up a rewarding ending. Helena's coma and experiences on the other side bring Helena the peace and well-being that had eluded her all her life. The characters from the beginning return for an ending that not only benefits Helena but the lives of those around her.        

Afraid of Everything takes the reader on a fascinating journey from the stress of everyday living into realms beyond this world and back again. In the process, it reveals valuable life lessons and truths about living free of fear.

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for providing this stop on Karen Jones Gowen's blog tour.
For more information and more stops on the tour, click here.

Meet the author: Karen Jones Gowen

Born and raised in central Illinois, Karen Jones Gowen now lives and writes in Panajachel, Guatemala. She and her husband Bruce are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen's writing. Her children's stories have appeared in the Friend, and her essays in the Jacksonville Journal Courier. Gowen's published books are Farm Girl,Uncut Diamonds, House of Diamonds,Lighting Candles in the Snow, Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for Active Families and Afraid of Everything. She blogs at her website, and at Coming Down the Mountain. You can email her at

Twitter: @KarenGowen


Thank you for reading this review! For more about blog-host, book reviewer, Audry Fryer, please visit


  1. Is it possible to love a review more than I love this one? I don't know, maybe I'll be lucky enough to find out one day. You really nailed the essence of Afraid of Everything and Helena's struggle and journey. Thanks so much for being part of my WOW blog tour! I've followed your blog now so I look forward to seeing more of your insightful book reviews.

    1. Karen, it's a pleasure to host you since I so enjoyed reading your book and the wisdom within it! Thank you for following my blog. I'm honored.

  2. Great review of a great book! Thanks ladies!!


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