book blog · book review

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell


She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine-year-old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?


*Many thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Then She Was Gone is my first Lisa Jewell read. I know, I know, how have I not read any of her works before? But I’m telling you this, it will not be my last for sure. I’m so invested in Laurel and Ellie’s story that it took me a while to get into a new book. So, anyway, it tells the tale of Ellie Mack, the golden girl of the family, the apple of the eye of her mother. She’s beautiful, smart, vibrant young lady. There is so much in store for her. Until she goes missing, at 15 years old, without any trace. The family waited for her return for years but she didn’t come back. The police never even find a clue as to where she might be. In the end, it was ruled as a runaway case. But her mom, Laurel won’t have any of it. She knows there’s more to her disappearance and she’s still not giving up hope that one day Ellie will come back. Her world revolved around finding her missing daughter, neglecting her husband and other children unconsciously. Which resulted in a divorce and somewhat distant relationship with her two children, especially her other daughter, Hannah. 10 years after, she’s still waiting. But all her hopes were shattered when the news came that Ellie’s remains were found. Now, there’s nothing else to do but move on and accept the truth that Ellie is dead. And then, one day, Laurel met a guy and they hit it off immediately. His name is Floyd. He’s intelligent, kind, charming and most of all, he makes her laugh. Before she knows it, she’s staying the night at his house and being introduced to his kids. A teenage daughter and a 9-year old little girl, Poppy, who looks so much like her Ellie. And as much as she tries to ignore it, there are questions that started creeping back on her and this time, she will make sure to find the answers.

The missing person trope never fails to catch my interest, especially those that involved mysterious disappearances. It fascinated me how authors spin the story of how a person goes missing and add a surprising twist and turn to keep the readers engrossed. Such is the case for Then She Was Gone, at least for me. I am hooked from start to finish. The mystery surrounding Ellie’s disappearance is enough to keep me awake for a few nights and turn page after page to answer all the questions I have in mind. It will be hard to review this book without giving away too much but I will try anyway.

Early on, it is easy to work out the plot twist as there’s a lot of clues thrown in the way. It is just the question as to what happened that leads to such twist that remains a mystery. Which I am okay with, as revelation time, things still come as a surprise and just…sad. It’s heartbreaking to think what young Ellie went through from the hands of an adult that she know and trusted, even just for a little bit. It is frightening to know what some people are capable of doing.

The pacing is just right though told in the point of view of different characters, but mostly Laurel. The story switches from past to present, and paired with changes of narrator, it can be confusing at times. But it is what makes everything work in this book. Also, I am conflicted with the characters. Of course, my support goes to Laurel and Ellie. But aside from that, I feel sorry for everyone, too, even the villain/s. At times, they are relatable. They all went through hard things in life and I can’t help but sympathize. One moment you’re sympathetic and the next you abhorred them. Floyd creeped me out and Poppy is unsettling. She is just so weird and I was actually hoping there will be some explanation as to why she acts the way she does, but there is nothing aside from her upbringing. But overall, I appreciate the solid character development here.

Then She Was Gone is one well-written and enthralling read about obsession, lies and deceit, betrayal, and mother’s hope of finding her lost kid. Heartbreaking, at the same time disturbing. Something that will stay with you for a while after finishing it. A brilliant work from Lisa Jewell that I recommend for those who are looking for a good mystery novel.





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