Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, 4 Stars

During the summer, I’m always actively reading two books. It’s just because I won’t take a library book or my kindle to the pool, for obvious reasons. Normally I select a shabby paperback from the used book sale at the library as my pool read, since I’m less invested in it if I happen to get it wet or full of sand.

My first pool read of the season this year was Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. I selected a hardcover, BOTM book. Not ideal, but I do own it so I’m a little less worried about it. Except it only lasted 3 days in my beach bag. It was so good, I had to continue reading it once I got home. And it did get a little soggy, but not bad enough I can’t pass it along to someone else.

What’s your pool/beach read? Any recommendations? Because I need a new one!

From the Publisher:

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

My Review:

I’ve read all of Lisa Jewell’s books. I would classify her books as mysteries because while they are all page-turners, they aren’t usually pulse pounding ones. But that doesn’t make them any less amazing. She writes about everyday types of crimes, the ones that happen in our communities that because legend or lore, but she approaches them in a very delicate manner. Her writing isn’t flashy. It’s subtle and understated. And a real breathe of fresh air.

I’ve enjoyed each of her books, but Then She Was Gone is far and away my favorite so far. It’s about a family who is trying to move on after an unimaginable tragedy changed the shape of their lives ten years earlier. And while at the beginning of the book, they are able to find a degree of closure, the book really tells the story of a family trying to move on, despite never being able to heal.

Laurel, Ellie’s mother, lost her identity and her relationship with her husband and remaining children when her golden daughter, Ellie, went missing. She’s never recovered and lives a shell of a life. It isn’t until Floyd and his daughter Poppy walk into her life that she is able to find joy again.

And what starts as joy, and a return to the land of the living, turns into something very different as the book goes on. I have read reviews from others who felt the story was too predictable. I’d have to agree that as Jewell drops hints and details about Ellie’s disappearance, the reader’s mind definitely starts to process what has happened.

But I really felt this was deliberate. The book doesn’t feel like a who-dunnit, but more like a slow reveal of a long buried story. And even if I saw a plot point coming, I found myself still very satisfied with either confirming or adjusting my expectation.

I highly recommend this one. If you’ve never read Lisa Jewell, read this one. If you’ve read all of her books, read this one. Are you seeing a pattern here? Just try to keep your copy dry.

Get your copy:

Indiebound

 

 

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