Book Review: Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell

In Then She Was Gone, Laurel Mack is a woman who is trying to put her life back together ten years after her teenage daughter, Ellie, disappeared. But just when things finally start to look up, clues from the past begin to surface.

Ellie was a bright 15-year-old, the light of her mom’s life. She seemed to have it all – beauty, brains, a warm personality and family and friends who adored her. She was busy studying for exams and looking forward to the summer when she disappeared. Police eventually conclude that she ran away, but Laurel knows her daughter and running away isn’t something she would do. Laurel is devastated and pushes the rest of her family away, leading to divorce and estrangement.

Fast forward ten years. Laurel meets a charming man, Floyd, and begins to fall in love. It’s the first time in ten years that she feels somewhat normal and happy. But her happiness is tempered by doubts and suspicion. Floyd’s young daughter looks a lot like Ellie. And Floyd is a little needy. She begins to uncover information that leads her to believe Floyd isn’t what he seems and that he might have some connection to her missing daughter.

This is a solid suspense novel. It has a unique premise, a sociopathic villain and an ending I didn’t see coming. The reader gets to hear the perspective of several characters, a technique that allows the author to capably develop them. Parts of it were rather disturbing to me as a mother of teenage girls. Actually, they would have bothered me even if I didn’t have kids. Very creepy. But if you can get past these parts, and you like good suspense novels, check out Then She Was Gone.

Have you recently read any good suspense novels that don’t involve missing teenage girls? Please share in the comments section.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell

  1. Other suspense novels: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marissa Pessl. The teenager is the book smart but not street smart heroine of this tour de force “you’ll never see this coming” book. After being really irritated by the author -making-me-feel-stupid style of writing, I loved this clever, clever book. (Compared to the author, I really am stupid, it turns out.) I listened to the audio book, then got the book out of the library to reread it and to see the drawings. This unique book is not to be missed. Perhaps you already read it? The second “suspense” book I read recently is not really that suspenseful, but I also loved the writing, the atmosphere of a small southern town and the truly lovable, clever child heroin: The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. Reviews claim that “nothing happens” in this book and it is a very long book. Do not expect the mystery promised on the cover however to be the main point of the book. Lots happens in this book, but the ‘main’ mystery is really a subtext for a wonderful, rich story that has stayed with me more than a year later.

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