Sunday, May 5, 2019

Book Review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Title: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publication Date: April 17th 2018
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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 cafĂ©, 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?

I loved I Found You by Lisa Jewell, so when I read the synopsis of her other book, Then She Was Gone, it was a book I knew I had to read. While this book was still a good read, it wasn't great, and I was left feeling a little disappointed.

The plot for Then She Was Gone was interesting enough although I did predict the mystery of why Poppy looked like Ellie early on. There were a couple of plot twists that I didn't see coming though of which I was thankful. I was constantly trying to figure out what Floyd's endgame was when it came to Laurel. I was also always hopeful that Ellie would return home safely. I thought the ending was done nicely. It tied up all loose ends and provided me with enough closure to be satisfied.

The one thing that bothered me, and I know it's a personal preference, was how the book was written in present tense aside from when Ellie and Noelle were telling their side of the story. It just really irks me when books are written this way. That really seemed to take away from the story for me.

The characters in Then She Was Gone were mostly believable. I had a hard time believing Noelle's side of things could actually happen for as long as they did when it came to Poppy. I also had a hard time believing Noelle could stay a virgin for so long. Poppy seemed very intelligent for her young years to not have been in some kind of advanced schooling. Poppy came across more of an adult than a child in every scene she was in. The author does attempt to explain why Poppy is the way she is, but I still found Poppy a bit unrealistic for a little girl. I liked Laurel, and I could only imagine her pain, but I felt like she was too uncaring toward her daughter Hanna and her son Jake. Maybe I'd have to be in Laurel's shoes to understand what it's like (although I pray I never am). It would have been nice to get a glimpse of Hanna's and Jake's point of view of things. Jake is hardly ever mentioned in the book, and there were many times I had to rack my brain to remember who Jake was whilst reading Then She Was Gone. It seems like Jake was put in as an afterthought to quickly tie up some loose ends. I enjoyed the character of Paul, Laurel's ex-husband. I admired his sunny disposition. Sara-Jade was another character I liked a lot although she wasn't in the book often enough. I liked Floyd and felt he was a well fleshed out character, but I was always wary when it came to him. 

The pacing was done well enough. My interest never wavered, and I found myself needing to know what happened next to see if my predictions were correct. Then She Was Gone is definitely a page turner. I'll give it that.

Trigger warnings for Then She Was Gone include profanities, sexual situations (although not graphic), kidnapping, drinking alcohol, violence, death, murder, and miscarriages.

Overall, Then She Was Gone is just a decent read. The plot is interesting enough, and some of the characters are well written. For me, the present tense use really took away my enjoyment of the book. I would still recommend Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell to those aged 17+ especially to those who like thrillers.

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