Published by Simon and Schuster on April 17th 2018
Genres: Mystery & Thriller
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This was a fairly average experience for me. It’s a very quick read – I read it in a single day – and it goes down smoothly and easily, but it is so easy to predict everything that will happen. I was always several chapters ahead of the characters and it sapped a lot of tension out of the story.
I can see why, with a better plot, Jewell is a great writer. The relationships and characters were fleshed out and interesting. Laurel’s pain over her missing daughter is palpable and realistic. The loss of Ellie felt like a real thing, not something that exists only inside a book. It’s a shame, though, that we know a major aspect of Ellie’s fate almost immediately, seeing as this is probably what I would have cared about most.
In the wake of Ellie’s disappearance ten years ago, her mother and father have split and the family has been torn apart by losing its “golden child”. Laurel, Ellie’s mother, is struggling to get her life back on track and save her relationships with her two remaining children. A new romance with a guy called Floyd makes her think that she may finally be moving on, until she meets his youngest daughter, Poppy, who looks shockingly like Ellie.
It sort of feels like I’ve read a hundred different variations of the missing daughter/grieving mother plot, and Then She Was Gone doesn’t really do anything new with it. The writing is strong, but it’s disappointing when you figure out all the major reveals in the first few chapters and even get the reasons behind them. As soon as certain characters are introduced, I was thinking “ah, got it” and, unfortunately, I was right. I kept hoping something exciting would happen to prove me wrong, but it really is as obvious as it seems.
I’m also not totally convinced about the biological possibility of one plot point.
Then She Was Gone was fine as an undemanding beach thriller, but I wouldn’t recommend it for readers looking for something new and innovative.