It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them…
Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.
“Perhaps that was the point. To get inside her head, break her from within. Make her crazy, keep her scared. Because scared is easy to control.”
This book may be one of the most compelling reads that I’ve had in a while. Here and Gone is the story of a woman trying to escape an abusive marriage that finds herself in handcuffs and her children taken away by suspicious cops. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. The opening chapters reminded me of some terrifying cases that I’ve read about innocent people being pulled over by corrupt or phony police officers.
The narrative swaps between characters throughout the story, sometimes swinging into the main two character’s pasts to flesh out their personalities. I really liked Danny, though I’ll admit that he seemed like a bit of an Asian stereotype to me, and being Asian American myself I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. His role in the story was cool but also seemed a little out of place. Audra I wish I could say that I liked her more, but her attitude in some of the flashback chapters really bothered me. My heart did break for her character, however, stuck in an abusive marriage with an enabler, with several chapters detailing her struggle with drug addiction.
I love the serious amount of woman power in this book that highlights the importance of female relationships. There are just certain things that many women know and understand about each other. This book was a heartfelt reminder about how vital it is for women to lift each other up, rather than tearing each other down. It was almost always female characters that would see what was happening to Audra and helped when she needed it the most. This was a major highlight for me in the story.
On the other hand though, I had to cut the rating down a little bit due to some pretty glaring plot holes that kept making me stop and ask my husband about law or the standard policies that are followed in any investigation. There were little things I noticed that just didn’t seem right and it would pull me out of my immersion in the novel.
Maybe it’s just me, but I would imagine that if a suspect in a missing person’s case were to implicate someone, even if it was a member of law enforcement, of abducting the kids and threatening her into taking the blame, wouldn’t the FBI be at least mildly suspicious? Question the officers involved, perhaps monitor their activity, separate them from the case, or put them on administrative leave? It would only make sense to me that the officers in question are too close to the case and should be taken off of it, but that wasn’t what happened. One cop had full access to the suspect, to police resources, and was still involved in the investigation. The other cop, well, nobody seemed to care about her one bit, or really noticed her absence. In fact, the FBI in general seemed pretty impotent in this book and that just didn’t seem normal to me.
All that aside, I really enjoyed this book. I was completely absorbed in the story from the first page and I couldn’t put it down, devouring it quickly over a period of about two days. I’ll definitely be checking out some more of the author’s work in the future.
Strengths: Engrossing story line, well-developed characters, good female relationships
Weaknesses: Several plot holes, mildly frustrating main character
Warnings: Domestic abuse, substance abuse, violence, implications of child abuse
Where to Buy
Buddy read with Jane! Check out her review here.
A big thank you to Penguin for the review copy!