Good as Gone – Amy Gentry

Are you really my daughter?

Good as GoneĀ has been sitting on my shelf since I received it in my October 2016 Book of the Month box. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I decided to give it a shot. I’m still in a bit of a reading slump with all that’s been going on, so an easy thriller sounded like a nice change of pace.

The story captivated me almost immediately, but lost me as it went on. It started out from the mom’s perspective, and she described how she lost her oldest daughter, Julie. She was kidnapped at knife point one night as her younger daughter, Jane, watched her older sister leave, terrified and hiding in her closet, too afraid to scream. Eight years pass, and we find out the family has all but fallen apart from the loss of Julie. Jane is rebelling at the farthest away college she could find, and there is a palpable distance between the parents. Just as their sitting down for dinner upon Jane’s return from college, Julie arrives on the door step… hallelujah?

We spend the rest of the book wondering if Julie is who she says she is. She looks similar, but her mom doesn’t really remember her eye color. And why is Julie referring to her parents as “Tom and Anna”? Why can’t Julie recall the shared memories between her and her sister? What about the dead body that was recovered eight years ago? In every chapter, we experience the story from the mother’s point of view, and then another girl takes over the narrative for the last half of the chapter. This is where Gentry lost me. In the end, it all comes together, but trying to piece together all of the different names that Gentry used (Julie, Vi, Charlotte, Starr, Mercy, Esther, etc.) feels like wading through mud.

The two perspectives are what give the story the depth and drama needed to question reality, but I feel it could have been written better. It took me a while to figure out what exactly she was trying to do, but when I did it became predictable. The ending lost me, as I felt it became too preachy. I’m not sure if Gentry was trying to praise religion or if she was satirizing it, but either way it made me feel uncomfortable. This was Gentry’s debut novel, and overall I would have to say she did okay. I would definitely pick up another book by her and would be interested to see how her writing style develops.

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