Overall Rating: 3/5
If you read my last blog post on “The End of Her”, you know that I had the itch. The mystery itch. I wanted that book that gave me all of the twists and turns I craved while still moving me in some way. The last book I read on my thriller quest did not quite hit the mark, so I eagerly turned to “Then She Was Gone” by Lisa Jewell, which had been lying forgotten in my kindle for a few months, patiently awaiting its turn.
I think I can boil down the reason why I loved reading this book to one character: Laurel. She is passionate, raw, authentic, dynamic, and so relatable despite the horrific circumstances in which she finds herself. While we did see her process her grief and exhibit her nurturing, loving characteristics, what I appreciated was that Jewell did not shy away from exploring the dark side of grief, especially those ugly thoughts that rear their heads in the face of despair. Laurel’s resentment towards her remaining daughter Hanna specifically illustrated this, and I found the analysis of humanity’s tendency to criticize what we have while aggrandizing what we have lost to be particularly poignant. Moreover, I enjoyed the novel’s focus on illustrating the value of maternal love in its varied shades and forms; from exploring its restorative quality through Laurel’s love for Ellie and its malicious nature through Noelle’s abuse.
That being said, I found “Then She Was Gone” to be all too predictable. While I love a dual story line across time, typically it is employed to build suspense and bring the pieces of the narrative together in a comprehensive manner. In this case however, I felt as though Jewell laid her cards on the table too early on. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop – and was only disappointed to see that book was playing out exactly as I thought it would when I had just started the novel. I was rooting for Laurel in her emotional and psychological development, but that was ultimately all that kept me reading.
The book I plan on reviewing next will be a departure from the recent selections – but there is SO much to dig into and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you.