In “Then She Was Gone,” author Lisa Jewell takes readers on a dark ride into the minds of some pretty crazy people. Laurel Mack is the mother of three children, one of whom disappeared — into thin air — one afternoon on the way to the library. That was ten years ago. Now Laurel’s life has changed. She’s alienated the two children she has left as well as her husband. They divorced, and she has just met a man who seems to be too good to be true.
But when she meets his daughter, Poppy, Laurel is shocked. Poppy looks just like Laurel’s missing daughter Ellie, and even more bizarrely, has some of Ellie’s mannerisms as well. Laurel starts to investigate what really happened to Ellie through clues she picks up because her interest is rekindled by this look-alike daughter of her boyfriend, Floyd.
What Laurel finds is that things are not as they appear to be. In fact, the reader will find that things are not only not as they appear to be, they are also not as they appear to be after the reader finds out some of the truth.
The story is told from multiple perspectives. Mostly, there is a third person narrator telling Laurel’s story. But there are also chapters, labeled “Then,” when Laurel and also Ellie’s story is told as well in third person narrative about the time of Ellie’s disappearance. Additionally, there are two first-person narratives. One is Noelle, who is definitely the perpetrator of the horror in the story. Also told in first person narrative, at the very end of the story, is some of Floyd’s story, helping to wrap up the mystery.
Along the way, Jewell provides some clever clues and techniques of foreshadowing. The reader will wonder many things — but to even list them would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that the book is filled with suspense, heartache, and real emotion. And in spite of the horror and heartbreak in the story, the ending is filled with hope and love. It’s about life and loss and forgiveness — and it’s well worth a read.
While it’s easy to say that because of the release date in April, this is a fabulous beach read, it’s a fabulous read anytime of year and anyplace one happens to be.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Atria Books, for review purposes.