I picked up Since She Went Away as part of my Books by the Banks TBR. David Bell attends the BBTB book festival every year as Cincinnati, Ohio is his hometown. Convenient right? Obviously being within an hour away from Cincinnati myself, I had heard of David Bell before, but I just hadn’t gotten around to reading any of his work. The BBTB was the push I needed to finally pick up one of his books. As Since She Went Away was release in June, this was the book that he was promoting at the festival.
Author: David Bell
Version: Paperback (432 pages)
Publisher: NAL (June 21, 2016)
Source: Borrowed (Library)
Read an excerpt
Three months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.
The only piece of evidence is a lone diamond earring found where Celia and Jenna were planning to meet, leading the national media to dub Celia “The Diamond Mom.” And even though Jenna has obsessively surfed message boards devoted to missing persons cases, she is no closer to finding any answers—or easing her guilt.
But when her son’s new girlfriend—who suddenly arrived in town without a past—disappears, a stricken Jenna begins to unwind the tangled truth behind Celia’s tragedy. And as long-buried secrets finally come to light, she discovers how completely lives can be shattered by a few simple lies.
After her best friend’s disappearance three months prior, Jenna Barton is having a hard time cooping. Jenna keeps asking herself “what if I hadn’t been late that night?” and blames herself for Celia’s disappearance. While Jenna struggles with her guilt, her son Jared is dealing with his own issues, like a mysterious girlfriend who no one seems to know anything about… When Jared’s girlfriend suddenly goes missing, we are left wondering if there is a connection to Celia’s case? Is there a killer on the loose?
Since She Went Away is told through the alternating perspectives of Jenna and her son Jared. I really liked how the dual story lines progressed and how they eventually end up being connected. I always enjoy thrillers with multiple story lines that have a connection, but it is not reveled until the end. I love trying to figure out the connections and how everything will blend together.
I thought the pacing of this book was good, I didn’t feel like there were any specific parts in the book that dragged on or felt slower. Bell did a wonderful job at making us suspicious of all the different characters in the book, even the missing person herself. Is this a kidnaping? A murder? Or is this one of those cases where the missing person left willingly? Bell steadily throws new info at us little by little to keep us on our toes.
Jenna was far from perfect, but she felt realistic. Jenna is a single Mom whose best friend has gone missing, to say she is a hot mess is an understatement. She does whatever she can to help find Celia, even going as far as surfing online crime discussion boards for ideas from strangers who obsess over high profile cases. She is desperate to find out what exactly happened to her best friend. Jenna may drink a little more then she should, and maybe gives her teenage son a little more freedom then is wise, but Jenna is in survival mode at this point. I think many parents face these decisions with their teenaged children; do you hold them close and shelter them, risking the chance you will push them away, or do you trust them to make the right decisions?
I really liked how Bell portrayed the media in this book. The overblown coverage of the case and the intrusive nature of reporters were both so realistic. I cannot imagine having a friend or loved one turn up missing, let along having to deal with a media circus to top it all off. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case more often then not these days. What happened to respecting privacy and feelings? When did it become okay for reporters to camp out on the lawn of friends and family of victims, waiting for the chance to get a comment or a picture of those who are grieving?
I cannot say that I was completely surprised with the big reveal, HOWEVER I don’t think it was completely predictable either. I did however have an issue with the fact that the ending felt very abrupt. You learn the big secret, then it just ended. I would have liked things to have wrapped up in a more fluid manner, but overall I was satisfied with how everything panned out.
Thriller/murder mystery is not a genre I naturally gravitate towards, so when I do read within this genre I want to be completely side swiped. I want to pick my jaw off the floor at least once in the book. Did Since She Went Away accomplish this? No, not really. There wasn’t anything that particularly sticks out in my mind to make this a memorable book. If you ask me next year what happens in Since She Went Away, I am not sure I am going to be able to tell you anything aside from the fact that I enjoyed reading it. Overall, I would say it is a solid read, but if you are looking for a book to knock your socks off, I don’t think this is going to be it.
About the Author:
David Bell is the bestselling and award-winning author of six novels from Berkley/Penguin: SINCE SHE WENT AWAY, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. He is an Associate Professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky