fiction / mystery

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell


I have not had great luck with books this month. Even ones I really looked forward to like the new Meg Wolitzer didn’t really grab me. I must have started and stopped a dozen books this month.

I had high hopes for Then She Was Gone. I’ve read Lisa Jewell’s books since college. Back then they were more in the general fiction/women’s fiction/chick lit realm but the last few have been more in the mystery or “thriller” genre with covers to match. I blame Gone Girl but I can’t fault an author for wanting to cash in. I really enjoyed her one that took place in a crescent (the fact that we saw several crescents in Bath probably helped with this) and the seaside one was okay but haven’t loved some of the other ones.  The Enoch Pratt doesn’t seem to order books too far in advance which annoys me but on the other hand, when they do, no one else seems to request them prior to their release date so this is another book I was able to get from the library out the day it was released!

This one switches perspective and timelines a few times but in a well-done way, which I appreciated. It switches between  Laurel, the 54 year old mom of a teenager who had disappeared ten years earlier, the teenager who disappeared at the time leading up to her disappearance and finally a woman who has ties to both the past and present of the main narrator, Laurel.

The story is really quite off the wall in a way– Laurel is finally moving on from her daughter’s disappearance and dating someone who seems perfect. Then she discovers a connection between the man and someone she knew around the time her daughter disappeared. She goes back and forth on trusting her instincts in what I thought was a probably realistic way for most people—she’s finally happy so why look too hard at things? Her daughter is dating a mystery person who also ends up having ties to the past.

There are a lot of moving parts in this book and a lot of places were it could have fallen short but I think she did an admirable job tying all of the various threads together and the ending, although slightly abrupt makes sense. Despite the slight implausibility of some of the plot it really was well-developed and not as ludicrous as it easily could have been in the hands of a less skilled writer. It was  fun mix of suspense and just straight up family drama in way that I enjoy. I think she is really getting a handle on mixing up the domestic with the mysterious with this book and I look forward to reading her next one.

I also read the afterward where she admits that she thought the story was outlandish but approached her editor anyway who helped her make it make sense. I’m glad she did! I really enjoyed it.

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