Hola, Bonjour, Hello my party people!! A few updates on a personal front first: my husbands liver donation surgery has gone really well overall. We had a slight delay as his father’s surgical team wanted to be extra careful so they executed the transplant on Thursday, December 13th. My husband’s portion overall took about 9 hours and his dads took about 12. My husband, Colin, was in the ICU for about a day and now we’ve been moved over to the regular side of the transplant unit and his recovery is going very well. His dad went back into surgery yesterday due to a minor complication and it was tough but his surgeons are confident that things are looking good and his body is accepting the liver.
As it turns out, I’m GARBAGE at sitting in a waiting room and it’s beyond me why they don’t have treadmills in there for restless energy and anxiety. What I will say about this process is that I have never in my life seen anything quite so remarkable as his father’s recovery. Having to go back into surgery was hard but the turn around in his health is nothing short of awe-inspiring. He looks at least 10 years younger, he is happy and chatty and full of a positive and joyful life I honestly haven’t seen in the last two years since this process began. I’ve never loved my husband more than I have in this last week, he’s handled the pain like a juggernaut and has been the sweetest most caring person for having just been cut into. We’re hoping to go home today but have to stay in San Antonio until after Christmas for follow up appointments but I’ll say sleeping not in a chair in a hospital room can’t come soon enough!
Boop, beep, bop – anywhooooo. I thought I’d get a bit back into blogging since I’m just sitting in a hospital room and Colin is doing great – with a review! I’ve been burnnnnnnning through so many reads so I’ve got some great stuff in store for ya’ll in the coming weeks as we get back into our routine. So today I’m bringing you readers a review for Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell! This is my second Jewell novel and I’ll be posting a review for Watching You on pub day (December, 26th)!
So I want to start this off by saying that my feelings about this novel are in large part due to the sheer number of missing children books I’ve read over the past year. I’ve talked to some of my fellow Traveling Sisters about how it seems when one type of trope becomes popular you’re bound to see and read six million more of the same. I’ve read numerous thriller/mystery books this year about missing persons, but especially about missing children.
If she could rewind the timeline, untwist it and roll it back the other way like a ball of wool, she’d see the knots in the yarn, the warning signs. Looking at it backward it was obvious all along.
Ellie Mack was a bright, beautiful, 15-year-old girl. She was her mothers “golden girl” and on an innocuous walk to the library, she vanished without a trace. There were little to no leads, no clues, and no indication of where she went or why. While the police believed she may have run away her mother, Laurel knew in her heart that her golden girl didn’t leave of her own volition. Ellie was the youngest of 3 children, she lived in a happy and healthy home with a mother who cooked every night and a doting father. After her disappearance, her family fractured and fell apart.
Laurel Mack, Ellie’s mother lost not only a daughter the day Ellie disappeared she lost herself. Spirling down into a deep need to understand what happened to Ellie, to find closure and answers she alienates herself from her husband and her two other children. Soon, 10 years have passed and her relationship with her children is strained at best and her marriage ended years ago.
The blame game could make you lose your mind … all the infinitesimal outcomes, each path breaking up into a million other paths every time you heedlessly chose one, taking you on a journey that you’d never find your way back from.
Laurel’s life feels empty and directionless, she moves through the motions but isn’t living anymore. This is when she meets Floyd. Floyd is a very regular, run of the mill nice man but he ignites in Laurel a new passion and zest for life. As things progress quickly Laurel meets his young daughter Poppy. As Laurel gets to know Poppy she finds the similarities between her and her lost daughter Ellie uncanny. She can’t help but feel a connection to Poppy but this connection opens old wounds and needs within Laurel to understand what happened to Ellie.
This is told in multiple POVs of which I won’t fully explain as that might give away some of the twists. We are, however, predominately given Laurels POV and experiences throughout this read. This is told in a typical thriller flashback format between “now” (10 years after Ellie’s disappearance) and “then” the days before Ellie disappeared. Personally this year, I had a new found love for this format. When done correctly, as it was done here, it adds a layer of suspense that propels me to continue reading because I want to know what happens in both timelines.
People try and make out there’s a greater purpose, a secret meaning, that it all means something. And it doesn’t.
Jewell does a truly exceptional job of teasing out suspense with a solid and compelling pace. I really enjoyed her writing style and I’ll be looking forward to picking up more works by her in the future. However, for me Then She Was Gone was a fairly predictable read for me. Most mysteries aren’t going to completely throw you for a loop and you’ll be able to guess tidbits here and there. However, I didn’t find nearly any aspect of the twists of this one to be surprising. I’d guessed the ending to this one fairly early on and when the conclusion rolled around I wasn’t surprised by the way it tied up.
As I mentioned when I started this review this could absolutely be me and not the book because I know many people really loved this one. It could be that I’ve read too many of these novels in the past year that I’m a bit burned out. Jewell’s style and story-telling skill never wavered and I enjoyed the depth she gave her characters. There were little to no plot holes, the character development was excellent but somehow, I still found myself wanting a bit more from this read. My other major issue with this one was that it began dragging for me about halfway through.
While this was a fairly quick read I found myself wanting things to move along a bit more. It’s a fairly minor issue but so much of the dialogue was one character repeating the exact phrase of the previous character. For example, Laurel would ask her daughter “Hanna, are you ok?” and Hanna would respond “Am I ok? Yes, I am ok”. This played out in nearly every conversation in the book and it made it a bit stagnant and redundant. All in all, I really enjoy Jewell’s style but this one wasn’t it for me personally. However, I do think if it’s on your TBR it’s well worth picking up.
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Fans of the “missing persons” or “missing children” trope, general fans of mystery and thriller novels, Lisa Jewell fans.
Music Mood: Movement by Hozier
Have you read Then She Was Gone or other Lisa Jewell books? What did you think? Are there any tropes you’ve read one too many times this year? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!