Book: Since She Went Away

Title: Since She Went AwayAuthor: David Bell
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
Genre: thriller
Publisher: Penguin
Date: June 21, 2016

Jenna Barton has had a rough time of it lately. A few months ago, her best friend, Celia, disappeared. If that wasn’t bad enough, Celia was on her way to meet Jenna when she went missing. This puts single mom Jenna and her son directly into the spotlight. Reporters, social media, activists, rumors, speculation – it’s all a part of her life now.

It’s caused Jenna to spiral into a weird guilt situation where she spends her time constantly searching for Celia or any lead she can find. Messageboards have become an odd sort of obsession for her. Until something else rocks her world just enough to break the Celia bubble. Her son brings home a girl who seems to have no past. And that girl disappears. Now all hell has broken loose everywhere Jenna turns and she’s not only going to have to dig into her past but also start to push her son in some new directions in order to figure out what is happening.

Missing stories have always intrigued me. You have no idea what happened in the final minutes or hours. What horror are they going through right now? Are they still alive? There are so many open ended options when you address a missing person. There’s also a possibility for endless horror or nightmares. So I’m really careful when I go into one of these stories.

I know that it’s a terrible admission to make, but this is the first David Bell book that I’ve read. I have several of them here in my library, but I haven’t picked them up. Until now. Since She Went Away was a taut, frightening thriller that kept me flipping from page to page almost as manically as Jenna hit the messageboards. I usually have some sense of where the story is going, but this time around, I was pleasantly surprised to be shocked at the twisty ending. It was unexpected but not unbelievable in scope. The way things unfolded, it was a natural progression that kept the story more real than fantasy.

The girlfriend turn for Jenna’s teenage son was interesting and fresh. As I was reading, I could tell something was off but my mind was jumping from scenario to scenario and each one could have been plausible.

If this is what David Bell offers, you can count me in as a fan. I really enjoyed this as a summer read. It was fast enough to enjoy at the beach and engaging enough to stick with me after I’d put the book down. I would definitely pass this one along to friends as a recommended read.

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