What would you do if one of your close family members disappeared and you were left wondering what happened to them? Author Lisa Jewell takes this desperate situation and weaves a complicated story of love, loss, and emotions in her book, Then She Was Gone. How would you deal with a missing daughter? With the media swirling around you spreading rumors and the police not able to find any answers, how would your future life turn out?
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell covers those questions and more. Ten years ago, Ellie was fifteen years old and the youngest of three children. Her mother, Laurel, treated Ellie like she was her golden girl. Ellie had a loving boyfriend, an adoring family, was studying for tests, and had her whole life in front of her. Leaving one day to study, Ellie disappeared. Despite a public plea for help, intense media scrutiny, and the police looking for her, the initial hopeful window for finding Ellie slips away, leaving her family with many unanswered questions and no Ellie.
Flash forward ten years. Ellie is still missing. Her disappearance has torn her family apart. Her mother, Laurel Mack, is struggling to find some semblance of normalcy. It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, seven months since her marriage officially ended, and a short couple months since she was contacted about the latest lead in Ellie’s disappearance. Her relationships with her other children are strained, leaving Laurel to seemingly float through what’s left of her life.
Heading to a coffee shop one day, Laurel meets a charming man named Floyd. Their chance meeting morphs into something serious, much to Laurel’s surprise. At Floyd’s house, Laurel is introduced to Floyd’s youngest daughter and her heart stops. Floyd’s youngest daughter, Poppy, is the spitting image of Ellie when Ellie was her age. This uncomfortable reminder of Ellie’s disappearance begins to haunt Laurel and raise uncomfortable questions that she thought she had dealt with. Questions surrounding Ellie’s disappearance like where she went, why did she go, and did she go willingly, among others, begin to stalk her thoughts. Examining Floyd and Poppy’s relationship makes Laurel uncomfortable as well. She begins to look into who Floyd really is and tries to learn more about Poppy’s history as well. Her resemblance to Ellie is uncanny, something that continues to bother Laurel. As she searches for answers to all of these questions, Laurel has to decide what exactly she wants out of life and how far she is willing to go to get answers.
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