Author: Lisa Jewell
Read: Feb. 2018 (Pub date: Apr. 24, 2018 in North America)
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Lisa Jewell has been on my list of authors to try for a while now, so I was really excited to get an ARC of her new book, coming out this April. Then She Was Gone had me spellbound for pretty much an entire day. I think I read like 60% of this book in one sitting.
I actually quite like mystery/thrillers. I don’t read them all that much, but I do get really into them when I finally pick one up. The only thing is that I can get pretty disturbed by mystery novels and I definitely got disturbed by this one.
Then She Was Gone tells the story of Ellie Mack, who walked out the house one day when she was 15 years old and was never seen again. Her mother is obviously devastated by the loss of her daughter; her marriage falls apart, her relationship with her other 2 children suffers, and for 10 years, she struggles to find any kind of closure and is unable to move on. Until she meets Floyd Dunn and his daughter Poppy and finally begins to reawaken and believe she might be able to start to piece her life back together.
The format of this story is fascinating. It has 5 parts and a lot of different narrators. It is predominantly narrated by Laurel Mack, Ellie’s mother, but it does alternate to several other perspectives throughout the novel. Most notable for me was that it’s partially narrated by Ellie herself in the first part and we learn almost immediately who our main suspect for her disappearance is. I was so surprised that we learned this information so early in the story and I felt like the first part (~15%) was almost a book in itself.
From there, Laurel meets Floyd and is transported to an entirely new life. I found this part of the story a little boring, but Jewell still did a good job at keeping me intrigued because I still wanted to know what actually happened. This part mostly just felt a little in contrast with the first part of the novel, which has a super strong start. It only took 1 chapter for me to get totally into this story.
It is a little predictable what happens, but it’s so freaking weird that when I was guessing at what might have happened I was like, “surely not” and tried to dismiss my prediction. Parts of the novel are definitely very disturbing and Jewell does create subtle atmospheric changes to her writing as the novel progresses. I actually really liked the end of this book. While I predicted some parts, the end did surprise me and while parts of it are heartbreaking, I appreciated Jewell ending her story this way.
I liked Laurel’s transformation throughout the course of the novel. I was frustrated with her at times and I have to admit, I did find some of her actions a little unbelievable and not to be in line with her character. Laurel lost her daughter and couldn’t move on for 10 years, so I found it really hard to suspend disbelief that she wouldn’t be incredibly suspicious of some of the weird coincidences of this book and that she didn’t always trust her instincts. Like I said though, this book had me totally spellbound and I would like to read some more of Jewell’s work!