Sunday, June 2, 2019

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell: Reading Room Catch-up Review

Then She Was Gone is the second Lisa Jewell book I've read in the last five months, with the first being Watching You, which came out the end of 2018. I'm happy to report that my delight in the first book has been extended to this second read. Lisa Jewell goes behind the closed doors of families and outs their secrets with nary a dull moment. With her perfect timing for reveal and her command of the twist, she is a master of domestic thrillers. While life goes on, even after tragedy, there is the fall-out to deal with the rest of one's life and the secrets to uncover that led to that tragedy. Jewell presents an intriguing present day story while delivering the unthinkable secrets that have altered its shape.

Ellie Mack was fifteen when she went missing. The youngest of three children and the second daughter, she was her mother's golden child, the favorite whose perfection didn't cause bitterness or even envy. She was loved by all and she loved all. She was focused on studying for her GCSE exams at the end of the year in anticipation of a glorious summer filled with boyfriend fun and no school pressures. Using a maths tutor to ensure her A scores in that area, it indeed looked like smooth sailing into the highest scores and a blissful break. The morning she left her happy home for the library and told her mother she'd be back to eat the leftover lasagna for lunch was as typical a day as any, but somewhere between her home and the library, Ellie Mack disappeared and couldn't be found.

Ten years later Laurel Mack still mourns her daughter who never returned home. Laurel and Ellie's father Paul have been divorced for seven years, and Laurel's relationship with her two remaining children, Hannah and Jake, is frayed and distant. Laurel has lived in an apartment the last three years, finally letting go of the "family" home where a family no longer lived. The absence of resolution is just a part of their lives. But, then some bones are found and the rucksack Ellie had been carrying the day she vanished. It doesn't take long for DNA to confirm the identity of the bones as being Ellie, but the police's theory that Ellie had run away still doesn't sit well with Laurel and makes no sense to her in light of the excitement Ellie felt for taking her exams and spending the summer with her boyfriend.

And, although there is now closure, Laurel doesn't anticipate any moving beyond her daughter's death. Then, Laurel meets a man in a coffee shop, and Floyd Dunn awakens in her feelings she never expected to have again. Something more than a perfunctory existence presents itself. Things move quickly and Laurel is soon meeting Floyd's nine-year-old daughter named Poppy, a smart, beautiful girl who has Laurel doing a double-take. Poppy could be Ellie at that age, and Laurel is dumbfounded at the resemblance. Floyd tells Laurel that Poppy's mother left her with him when she was four, and the mother has never been seen again, leaving Floyd to raise his daughter alone. . Laurel and Poppy become close, and the closer they become, the more questions Laurel has about this darling girl and her charming father.

Jewel uses multi-character viewpoints to tell this tale, which is helpful to the reader in piecing together the fragmented parts of Ellie's disappearance, death, and impact of both. Laurel's narrative is the driving force of the story, but we are also privy to insights from Ellie, Floyd, and Poppy's mother. It's not too difficult to figure out what happened to Ellie before the end of the book, but it's the why that haunts the reader, and that's what Lisa Jewel delivers, a complete story that readers need for their own closure. The author is an outstanding storyteller and now a must-read author on my favorites list.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

June's Sizzling New Titles

June 2019

The Playground Murders by Lesley Thomson (June 1st)

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz (June 4th)

We Were Killers Once: A Thriller (Brigid Quinn Series) by Becky Masterman (June 4th)

Those People by Louise Candlish (June 11th

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (June 18th)

After the End by Clare Mackintosh (June 25th)

Big Sky (A Jackson Brodie novel) by Kate Atkinson (June 25th)

Gone Too Long: A Novel by Lori Roy (June 25th)

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe (June 25th)

The Paper Bark Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu (June 27th) (Kindle) (Paperback in August)

The Problim Children: Carnival Catastrophe by Natalie Lloyd  (June 25th)

Before I Wake by David Morrell (June 30th)