Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Anna and Tom Whitaker's lives are irrevocably changed the night their thirteen-year-old daughter, Julie, disappears. The only witness to her kidnapping is her ten-year-old sister, Jane, who watches petrified from her closest as a man takes away her sister. The broken parents remain in their home, hoping against hope that someday their daughter will return. And then, amazingly, one night the doorbell rings and there she is: Julie. Now a young woman, with a harrowing tale to tell of abuse and horror, but otherwise unscathed. And just like that, the broken family is whole. But is it? Anna doesn't understand what her daughter is keeping from her, or where she disappears when the family thinks she's at therapy. And when a Private Investigator shows up--a former detective who was involved in the early portions of Julie's case, with thoughts that Julie isn't really Julie--Anna is even more confused. She just wants her daughter back, but does she really have her?
This novel hooked me from the beginning, and I tore through it less than two days. It starts out with Julie (or the imposter, but I will say Julie for the sake of this review) arriving home and then we hear from Anna and some of the other characters as the family adjusts to Julie's homecoming. But we also delve into the past, which adds this amazing layer of suspense and intrigue and leaves you slightly befuddled, completely invested, and flipping pages like mad. When the point of view first switched from Anna to Julie early in the novel, I gasped a bit.
Gentry has created a book that is compulsively readable from a thriller standpoint, but also features emotionally damaged characters, struggling to survive after losing Julie for so many years. What I enjoyed so much about this book is that it's not only an excellent thriller, which keeps you guessing and wondering, but a nuanced portrait of a truly fractured family, who is still reeling from Julie's kidnapping. The interactions between Anna and her family is fascinating in itself -- Jane, for instance, has had her entire life basically formed around the disappearance of her sister. You don't always get explicit descriptions of their reactions, but you see it in every interaction and emotional attachment (or lack thereof) the family displays.
Overall, this is a great thriller: a fast-paced read, with a plot that will have you guessing (and gasping) and turning pages long into the night.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Edelweiss (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 7/26.
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