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All booksThrillerThen She Was Gone
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone

by Lisa Jewell

Quick take

The missing daughter, the devastated mom, the new boyfriend, and the shock they never saw coming.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

Why I love it

Laura Whitelaw
BOTM Readers Committee

Attention, readers with pets: I hereby confirm that Then She Was Gone is lap-cat approved. Once I opened it, I found myself trapped in Lisa Jewell’s addictive plot and unable to move from my seat, much to my cuddly calico’s delight. This spine-tingling thriller with a plot reminiscent of The Lovely Bones had me torn on whether to sympathize with its multiple narrators or completely distrust their every word.

The story begins with Laurel Mack, a mother irrevocably shaken by the disappearance of Ellie, her favorite daughter. Ten years later, her marriage long over and her other children grown, Laurel falls into a sudden romance with a man she meets over coffee. Things move quickly, and soon she’s meeting his family, including his unusual, brilliant nine-year old … who happens to look exactly like Ellie.

If you think you’ve surmised the twist here, I promise that you haven’t. I'm someone who loves trying to figure out a plot before it’s revealed, and Then She Was Gone was a guessing game right down to its final chilling page. What really happened to Ellie? In this seemingly straightforward domestic suspense shot through with horrific revelations from the past, the answer lurks in everything the narrators do, and don’t, say. You (and your lap-cat!) will be frozen to your chair until you find out the truth.

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Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

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