Review of Since She Went Away by David Bell

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Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Release date: June 21,2016

Publisher: Berkley/NAL

Description 

Jenna Barton’s best friend, Celia has been missing for three months now. The two women were supposed to meet at a park but Celia never showed up. The only thing found is one of Celia’s diamond earrings. The media have dubbed Celia as the Diamond Mom and started a media firestorm that pushes Jenna to the brink.

Jenna is the single mom to her son, fifteen year old Jared. He recently started dating a girl named Tabitha who seems to have secrets in her past.

When Tabitha disappears too, Jenna finds herself digging for answers as to what happened to both women. Will what she finds expose lies that may harm her and her son forever?

Review

The basic premise of this novel had me hooked as soon as I read a short blurb on Netgalley. I love nothing more than a good missing persons mystery. As I started reading, I was drawn to the pace of the book. The chapters were short, but not too abrupt. It skips back and forth between Jenna and Jared, which works well. You see Jenna struggle to parent her son during a difficult time for their family, during a time in his life that is already trying as Jared is only fifteen. Jared’s dad left when he was five so it has always been just the two of them. Their relationship is interesting. Many times while reading I grew frustrated by Jenna’s parenting choices and found myself judging her. But the more I thought about it, I realized that Bell was showing her making choices that many real parents would make. Jared has a tendency to run off after being told by Jenna to stay put. Instead of panicking and trying to find him, Jenna trusts him and knows he will make the best decisions he is able to. This would be very hard to do as a parent, but it is one of the many ways Bell makes their relationship seem genuine. Jenna does still try a bit too hard to be Jared’s friend rather than his mom, but it is clear this is because she is learning as she goes along, much like any parent.

Jenna finds herself desperate to do anything to find out what happened to Celia. She spends quite a lot of time surfing message boards that discuss Celia’s case. She develops a strange correspondence with a user named Domino55.

There are quite a few secondary characters that play a role in this book. Sally becomes Jenna’s closest friend after Celia dissapears and I enjoyed their scenes. Reena is a national news anchor who has a tenuous relationship with Jenna. The whole angle of the media’s involvement in Celia’s case was intriguing, probably because we have all seen how vicious the media can be in real life. Ian is Celia’s husband and him and Jenna had a brief connection in high school. His aloofness and cold behavior had me wondering about his intentions throughout. Ursula is Celia and Ian’s teenage daughter who goes to school with Jared. She is a typical high school mean girl who I loved to hate.

Tabitha is Jared’s new girlfriend who just moved to town. Her father is super strict and she doesn’t talk about her mother, but it is clear that something in her past haunts her. The relationship between the teens adds something that could draw in typical YA readers.
Without giving too much away, when there was a resolution, I had already kind of figured it out. Not completely, but still. I do read a ton of mystery/thriller novels though and I tend to play whodunnit even when I try not too.

My only complaint about this book is the ending was jarring and very abrupt. Wham, bam and it was done! I would have liked to see an epilogue, even if it was a brief one.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley/NAL for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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