So it took me a while to finish this one because the first part of the story drags. Jewell starts off with two POVs with the mother (Laurel) and days before Ellie’s disappearance. But then we get two additional POVs (no spoilers) and I just went grr. I also thought that Laurel was kind of a terrible mother. I can’t imagine what I would do if one of my kids went missing and was presumed dead. She just gets angry her husband is trying to move on (for them and their remaining two kids) and then she compares her missing daughter to the one still alive (Hanna) and goes on how Ellie was prettier and livelier and would have been her friend more. I feel like it’s in the parenting 101 manual you don’t compare your kids and have favorites. Or if you do compare, you don’t go you are so much less than your sister. The writing was kind of all over the place and I had just could not wrap my head around the reveal. It was a mess and a half and the HEA we get just didn’t jibe with what came before it.
“Then She Was Gone” follows Laurel Mack who is still reeling ten years later from her daughter Ellie going missing. Ellie was 15 years old when she disappeared and the police believe she ran away. However, Laurel doesn’t believe that and still thinks her daughter is out there somewhere or she has to be dead because Ellie was so happy in their family and wouldn’t have left. I think the only true thing that is shown in this book is that Laurel spent way too much of her time sweating the small stuff and then when something bigger and uglier came along she was angry and took it out on the wrong people afterwards. Her husband and her come apart and she’s partially estranged from her son and the only part of her life her daughter Hanna lets her in on is that Laurel comes by once a week to clean her flat. Seriously. I just went good grief.
When Laurel meets a man named Ford and his daughter Poppy everything turns around for her. She finds herself falling for Ford and that Poppy acts and looks similar to her daughter Ellie she is ready to throw herself into this ready made family.
I really couldn’t get into Laurel. Judgmental is not the word. She has an awful thought about it should have been her daughter Hanna that went missing and I think most of the book is her thinking this in slightly different ways. And then she apologizes and it feels very trite. We do get to know Ellie and I think that part was good, but I wish we had gotten more insight into Hanna and the other sibling as well. It definitely felt like Laurel just saw Ellie with rose colored glasses and remembered no negativity.
Positives would be that the writing in this one was fairly easy to get into. I finished it in about 3 hours. There’s not a lot of things that are going to strain your brain. The problem is that you get info dumped towards the end and at that point I was just humming to myself until I finished. The flow was up and down with the four POVs and the final epilogue and then another ending (don’t ask).
The setting of the book takes place in contemporary times in London. I have to say though that most of the book seems to be in two or three key locations. Laurel is constantly going on about her daughter Hanna’s flat and how gloomy it is. I think she mentions her place a few times. She’s constantly at her new love interest’s home and then there are two other locations I won’t spoil in this one.
The ending was trying for unsettling, but honestly I just could not believe it. It read as very fake to me (with how Jewell ends it) and I think she should have really pushed the ending there because I had a hard time going okay cool everyone’s happy based on what came before it. I also think that Jewell let us know the outcome of what happened way too soon. We just had to wait for clues to be laid out and for everyone to catch up to what really happened.