Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

by Lisa Jewell


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A 2018 Goodreads Choice Award Finalist—Top 5 Best Mystery & Thriller * A Suspense Magazine “Best of 2018” Thriller/Suspense Pick

“An acutely observed family drama with bone-chilling suspense.” —People

“Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace, leaving readers on the edge of their seats. Her multilayered characters are sheer perfection, and even the most astute thriller reader won’t see where everything is going until the final threads are unknotted.” —Booklist, starred review

“Sharply written with twists and turns, Jewell’s latest will please fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, or Luckiest Girl Alive." —Library Journal

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501154652
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 153
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.

Read an Excerpt

Then She Was Gone

Those months, the months before she disappeared, were the best months. Really. Just the best. Every moment presented itself to her like a gift and said, Here I am, another perfect moment, just look at me, can you believe how lovely I am? Every morning was a flurry of mascara and butterflies, quickening pulse as she neared the school gates, blooming joy as her eyes found him. School was no longer a cage; it was the bustling, spotlit film set for her love story.

Ellie Mack could not believe that Theo Goodman had wanted to go out with her. Theo Goodman was the best-looking boy in year eleven, bar none. He’d also been the best-looking boy in year ten, year nine, and year eight. Not year seven though. None of the boys in year seven were good-looking. They were all tiny, bug-eyed babies in huge shoes and oversized blazers.

Theo Goodman had never had a girlfriend and everyone thought maybe he was gay. He was kind of pretty, for a boy, and very thin. And just, basically, really, really nice. Ellie had dreamed about being with him for years, whether he was gay or not. She would have been happy just to have been his friend. His young, pretty mum walked to school with him every day. She wore gym gear and had her hair in a ponytail and usually had a small white dog with her that Theo would pick up and kiss on the cheek before placing it gently back down on the pavement; then he would kiss his mum and saunter through the gates. He didn’t care who saw. He wasn’t embarrassed by the powder-puff dog or his mum. He was self-assured.

Then one day last year, just after the summer holiday, he had struck up a conversation with her. Just like that. During lunch, something to do with some homework assignment or other, and Ellie, who really knew nothing much about anything, knew immediately that he wasn’t gay and that he was talking to her because he liked her. It was totally obvious. And then, just like that, they were boyfriend and girlfriend. She’d thought it would be more complicated.

But one wrong move, one tiny kink in the time line, it was all over. Not just their love story, but all of it. Youth. Life. Ellie Mack. All gone. All gone forever. If she could rewind the timeline, untwist it and roll it back the other way like a ball of wool, she’d see the knots in the yarn, the warning signs. Looking at it backward it was obvious all along. But back then, when she knew nothing about anything, she had not seen it coming. She had walked straight into it with her eyes open.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Then She Was Gone includes discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Then She Was Gone is, first and foremost, a mystery. Yet many questions are answered quite early on in the book. How soon did you guess what really happened to Ellie, and if you did, did it affect your enjoyment of the book?

2. In the prologue, it says “Looking at it backward it was obvious all along.” Now that you’ve finished the novel, do you agree? What “warning signs” referred to in the prologue might Ellie have spotted if she’d been more aware?

3. Did you think Lisa Jewell’s portrayal of Laurel and her journey was realistic? Could you relate to the way she dealt with her grief, or did you find it alienating?

4. What was your impression of Poppy when she is first introduced? Did this change over the course of the book, and if so, how?

5. Then She Was Gone is divided into six parts. Why do you think Lisa structured the book this way? How would you categorize each section—what makes it distinct from the other parts of the book?

6. For much of the book, Laurel and her daughter Hanna have a fraught relationship as Laurel fails to let go of unfavorable comparisons between Hanna and Ellie. Do you think it’s normal to have a favorite child? How should parents handle these feelings if they arise?

7. Throughout the novel, Laurel has moments in which she feels something is not quite right, but often writes it off as paranoia as a result of losing her daughter. Have you ever written off your own concerns? How can you distinguish between when you are being pessimistic, and when you should trust your intuition?

8. There are four different perspectives shown in the book, but only Noelle and Floyd’s narration are in first person. Why do you think Lisa chose to write their chapters in first person, directly addressing other characters, while Laurel and Ellie’s chapters were told through third person? What effect did this have on you as you read?

9. Floyd and Noelle are both characters with some obsessive tendencies. What other similarities do they share, and in what ways are they different? Were you able to sympathize with either or both of them?

10. In chapters from Ellie’s perspective, she repeatedly brings up the subject of blame, thinking of all the moments that led to what happened to her and what she “should” have done differently, or what others could have done to save her. As you read, did you find yourself blaming characters for the unforeseen consequences of the choices they made? If so, in which situations?

11. At the end of the book, Laurel notes that she “hasn’t told Poppy the full truth” (page 351) about everything that happened. Do you think she ever will? How would Poppy react to learning the secrets of her background?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Then She Was Gone references in an excerpt from Ellie’s diary, Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, another story about a young teenager who goes missing and the fallout of her unsolved disappearance on her family. Consider making The Lovely Bones your next book club read and discussing what parallels you find between the two novels, and what distinguishes them.

2. Both Noelle and Floyd talk about the lasting impact unpleasant aspects of their childhoods had on them, yet Floyd and Laurel both seem optimistic about Poppy’s resiliency and ability to thrive despite the disturbing background of her early years. Consider how you think being raised by Noelle and Floyd may have shaped Poppy. Choose an age, fifteen or older, and imagine what Poppy will be like then. Write a short story about her that touches on how she has grown and whether she has moved past the traumatic circumstances of her youth. Share with your reading group and compare your impressions of how Poppy will develop.

3. Check out more of Lisa Jewell’s books, such as I Found You and The Girls in the Garden. To find out more about Lisa, visit, or follow her on Twitter @lisajewelluk.

Customer Reviews

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Then She Was Gone 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The connections were such a twist. Had me reading non stop. Good story line, amazing plot twists. Absolutely loved this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book! Kept be wanting to get to the end as soon as I could. You still did not know what would happen to the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had a hard time putting it down and haven't read a book that fast in ages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bizarre indeed but wickedly captivating. I couldn’t put it down without a fight! One of my favorite psych thrillers for sure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Story flows with no slow spots. Twisty and turny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost gave up about 100 pages in. So glad I didn’t. What an extraordinary story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a fun, easy thriller- which is exactly what this is- but about a third of the plot becomes to predictable to remain an exciting read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
etoile1996 More than 1 year ago
then she was gone is a darker book than i usually like to read. sometimes i try to branch out from romance and happy endings. and sometimes i enjoy a good thriller. but maybe it's because i'm a mom. but missing kids. dead kids aren't really something i enjoy reading about. this book is like gone girl meets the lovely bones, and if you like those books you will probably like this. it's just not the right book for me. some of the twists in this book i technically figured out from the description, and i didn't love how telegraphed certain things were. in the end, there's a reason i stay in my comfort zone. i'm not into being disturbed by the books i read, even if i'm drawn to them by the pretty covers. **then she was gone will publish on april 17, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/atria books in exchange for my honest review.
jnmegan 3 months ago
Lisa Jewell is a prolific author of gripping contemporary thriller and suspense novels, and her loyal fans have become accustomed to a high caliber of character development and innovative plot twists in her work. They might be slightly disappointed in picking up Jewell’s Then She Was Gone, a novel published by Atria in 2017. The book alternates from the time when Ellie-a young intelligent teen admired by all- mysteriously disappears to ten years later after a retrospective televised reenactment is broadcast. Even though what could be her remains are discovered, the chronology of what occurred long ago remains unclear. The emotional scars from that day are still close to the surface for Laurel Mack, Ellie’s mother. Over the intervening years, Laurel has become a shell of her former self and continues to be unconvinced by the hasty conclusion made by the initial investigation that Ellie simply ran away from home. Estranged from the remainder of her family, Laurel clings to an idealized image of the daughter she lost. Just when she is beginning to accept a lack of resolution and is ready to move on with her life, she encounters a new man who may not turn out to be the Prince Charming he appears. Questions start to arise about the man’s past, possible motives and ties to a woman who was Ellie’s tutor before she went missing. Then She Was Gone does have numerous moments that strain credulity and border on the implausible, still, it is a compelling enough story for the reader to forgive these faults. Jewell reliably unspools a twisty tale that will keep even veteran mystery readers gasping with the revelations as the chapters pass. This title would make a decent choice for a book club or quick read, but those new to Jewell might be better served to begin with Watching You or The Family Upstairs.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Couldn't put it down.
marykuhl 6 months ago
I have to admit, I bought this book for the cover, but I am glad I did. 15 year old Ellie Mack disappears and the authorities chalk it up to a runaway. 10 years have gone by and Ellie's mother, Laurel is getting her life back together. Enter Floyd, a handsome man whom Laurel's falls for. Floyd's 9 year old daughter Poppy bares a striking resemblance to Ellie. Oh, and then there is a Noelle, Ellie's math tutor and Poppy's absent mother. The way this story is woven together brings a whole new level of insanity (in a good way!). I liked all of the characters. Laurel didn't do any of those stupid things that make you go, "Why would you do that?" that I have seen in so many other books. My copy has a quote from People "An acutely observed family drama with bone-chilling suspense." I don't really agree with the "bone-chilling suspense" comment, but it was a great read. I have read two book previously by this author and this is my favorite.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Absolutely loved this book! Keeps you guessing, read it in 3 days
Anonymous 10 months ago
Enjoyed the story for the most part. I did think the ending could have been stronger. A lot of detail that had no relevance to story.
Anonymous 10 months ago
tommygrrl723 10 months ago
This book took me by surprise. I rarely read the "it" books of the moment, because they usually fall short of my expectations.....but this book... this book was different. Different in a way that really stays with you, like a slow burn. It makes you think about the unknowns in life, feel the emotions the characters feel throughout their journey (love, loss, fear, deceit, forgiveness, bittersweet happiness, etc) while highlighting social issues such as child abduction, mental illness, depression, and family dynamics after a devastating event. I really loved this book. The writing style was amazing, the characters were well developed, and (as I mentioned earlier) social/taboo/tough-to-talk-about issues were focused on. (In a way, it was similar to another author that I tend to enjoy --Chris Bohjalian) I did read other books while reading this book, because at times, it did get a bit heavy, and I was super busy at work, but I was eager to finish it. I look forward to reading more books that this author has written.
Anonymous 11 months ago
A little dark at times, but couldnt put it down
Anonymous 12 months ago
Two words... page turner! I could not put this book down. It was easy to read and although a little predictible at parts, it had a good story to it. It was enjoyable to read and had a few good twists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down
GranbyLibraryBookClub More than 1 year ago
"Then She Was Gone" is not really a story about how the said "She" - Ellie, is gone, but the pieces that are left once Ellie is. Although the author, Lisa Jewell, does tell the story of Ellie's disappearance, the main character here is her mother Laurel, and how she copes with the loss of her daughter. This story has surprising twists and turns and is essentially a thriller, just told on a less than linear timeline making less shocking and more predictable. Our book group initially liked the book, most members praising it as a quick and enjoyable read. However the discussion highlighted the lack of character development and the sick and twisted nature of this creepy story, bringing the rating at the end of the meeting to a solid 3 stars from almost all our members.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books by Lisa Jewell. I could not put this one down! Great read and I highly recommend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago