Books that deal with identity are my weakness, and that is definitely the case with Good As Gone by Amy Gentry.
Eight years ago, Jane witnessed her sister Julie being kidnapped at knifepoint while their parents slept downstairs. For those eight years, the family has lived with the guilt and pain caused by Julie’s absence, as they continue to hope that Julie is alive.
Then the doorbell rings, and they find that Julie is, miraculously, home safe. Anna and the rest of the family are thrilled, but as Anna hears Julie’s story, their happiness turns to guilt and sadness.
Each of the family members tries to reconnect with Julie, but they start to find that some things just aren’t adding up. They begin to consider that Julie may be lying to them, and when Anna is contacted by a former detective, turned private eye, she begins to wonder if the young woman is actually her daughter at all, and if it isn’t Julie, what does she want?
Good As Gone is a nerve-wracking mystery that will keep you guessing until the final pages.
So let me start by saying this. The book jacket compares this book to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but I didn’t get through either of those books as quickly as I did Good As Gone.
I read Good As Gone in about four days. The story kept me turning the pages late into the night until I could hardly keep my eyes open. There was a mystery that I was absolutely invested in and I was loving every minute of it.
When I started reading I was a little apprehensive, because Good As Gone seemed like a story that I’d seen before: lost child comes home, but is this really the child that was taken? (Seriously, I remembered watching that episode of Law and Order: SVU a few weeks ago!)
But Good As Gone wasn’t just that story. Yes, it examines the family as Julie tries to integrate and get back to her life with them, but it is also a story of identity.
My absolute favorite aspect of this book is the way in which the story is told.
Amy Gentry tells the story in alternate chapters. The numbered chapters tell the story of the family, and how they’re adjusting to this sudden, and happy, reunion. Then there are chapters with names on them, and as you go through them, the layers of who this young woman is are peeled back until you know the truth by the end of the book.
This retroactive storytelling was the element that I absolutely loved about this book, and it’s what made it effective. We could have just snuck a few peeks and had thing be “not quite right” in the Whitaker household, but this created a new dimension and gave me a reason to keep reading.
Overall, yes, Good As Gone is a story about a family that is marked by grief and has to move forward, but it is also a story of identity, and that’s why I like it. When I’ve described this book to people in the past, I’ve called it “a thriller with some meat on its bones.”
While it has the plot that keeps you turning the page, the real mystery is who this woman is and how each incarnation informed who she is today.
FINAL RATING: 5 Stars
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