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Ashes in Autumn


Lilac Sophia Carpenter is sixteen years old.


She’s going to be sixteen years old for the rest of her life. 


Confined to her bed as her health declines, Lilac lives her life in daydreams, imagining her love story to her former best friend, Nathan Emery. But Lilac and Nathan haven’t talked since that fateful night—the night of her sister’s wedding, when her health worsened and his life unraveled and the already-fractured pieces of their friendship became irreparable.


With the comfort of her daydreams becoming more and more elusive, Lilac must decide if reality can be greater than her own imagination when there’s little time left for living. 

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Editorial Reviews

"A contemporary YA novel about loss, love, and forgiveness. Lilac Sophia Carpenter is 16 years, 11 months, and three weeks old, and she probably won’t live to see 17. An incurable, unnamed terminal illness ravages her body, and as she gets weaker, she daydreams: She imagines her life at different ages, sometimes reliving days in the past, but more often daydreaming about the future—about growing up and getting old and about experiences and jobs that she’ll never have. What most of these visions have in common is a special place reserved for her best friend, the boy next door, Nathan Emery, even though Lilac has barely spoken to him in years. Nathan knows that she’s dying, but he’s avoided talking to her for such a long time—ever since one fateful day when they were both 10 years old. Will he mend his relationship with Lilac before it’s too late? This sorrowful exploration of a dying young girl’s life seems designed to pull at readers’ heartstrings as it follows Lilac’s imaginings. As she comes to terms with what’s happening to her, she rails about the unfairness of it all, and a few chapters effectively unveil her real memories. The book also thoughtfully addresses themes of forgiveness and compassion—how her illness affects others and how their reactions affect her, in turn... A slightly uneven but unflinchingly sad examination of untimely death."

 - Kirkus Indie Review

Reader Reactions

"Superbly written storyline filled with immense imaginative and descriptive details. This book definitely tugs at the heart strings, and captures the essence of life. I found it full of profound meaning and can personally relate to it. I highly recommend Lilac in Winter as a great read for anyone and everyone.

- Amazon Review

"Susan creates characters that are so real and alive and she sucks you right into her world. I cried and laughed during this book. The characters are realistic, they have flaws, they’re not perfect and shiny. Lila has a terminal illness. Her parents are divorced and her dad is remarried. Her sister got married and moved away. And her best friend Nathan is still her best friend, just not in person right now. As her body gets worse, Lila lives and loves through her dreams. Susan captures the lives of people living with a terminal illness. The person sick, and those who are caring for them. She breaks your heart, and gives you hope at the same time. The characters absolutely come alive. She had a true gift."

- Amazon Review


"I won this book in a giveaway and had to read it immediately and read it in one sitting. This was a really good book in getting to know who Lilac is and her story and of course Nathan. It was touching and special." 

- Amazon Review


"The story in this book wasn't flashy, but told a gentle story of life. I enjoyed that it moved back and forth along different timelines and slowly gave way to the full understanding of everything that occurred. I felt invested in the main character, wanting to know where she had been and where she was going. The story could have continued on beyond the ending, but I liked that the story kind of faded and allowed you to wonder at what may happen next."  - GoodReads Review

"Oh my goodness. This book was beautifully written and one you just couldn't put down. I cried through it (thanks so much for the headache!) but again could not walk away from it. I just won this today and finished it today. It tells of a 16 year old girl named Lilac with a terminal illness telling her story of her relationship with her friend Nathan since they were 6 yrs old. They share a bond that even was broken for some years is strong enough to come back strong. Ms Pogorzelski sure can write a book. What a talented lady. Read it and you'll know why I say that." 

- GoodReads Review


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