Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts. She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
Publication Date: July 26, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
If there is something missing – if I am afraid to love her quite as much as before – it is only because the potential for love feels so big and so intense that I fear I will disappear in the expression of it, that it will blow my skin away like clouds and I will be nothing.
This is such a refreshingly different take on the psychological thriller genre! While a major part of the story line does immerse the reader in wanting to know what happened to Julie and who this young woman really is living in the Whitaker’s home, the book is so much bigger than its plot.
Much of the novel is told from Julie’s mother’s point of view, and it is through her narration that the reader begins to learn more about the relationships in the family and what has happened to them since Julie was abducted from her bedroom years earlier. While the plot kept the tension in the novel going, Good as Gone is much more focused on character development and the relationships the women in the novel are involved in – with each other and with the men in their lives.
Maybe once you’ve been left by the most important person in your life, you can never be unleft again. Maybe you’re destined to be abandoned even by your own guts, maybe your foot walks off with your thighbone, why not, stranger things have happened.
The novel delves deep into feelings of loss and the effect trauma can have on a person’s life and relationships. The reader sees how the loss and return of Julie has impacted her mother, father, AND sister and the question of whether or not the young woman who has just shown up on their doorstep really IS Julie takes the reader further into the minds and lives of these characters and what they have experienced for the last seven years. The underlying tension of not knowing if this person who has returned really IS Julia adds so much to all the nuances and hidden pieces of the plot and makes for a fantastic (and very fast-paced) read. I’m looking forward to Amy Gentry’s next novel!