I have yet to be disappointed by a Lisa Jewell book. Every single one of her novels I’ve read has been well-crafted, exquisitely plotted, and full of interesting, richly drawn characters.
The Night She Disappeared was no exception – and, in fact, I will not be surprised if this winds up being one of my favorite reads of the year.
By the way, I would highly recommend going into this one reading the bare minimum about it. I have been very careful not to include spoilers below, but I read one review that seemed fairly vague, and yet the words stuck with me and I knew exactly what had happened pretty early on. As long as a book is as well-written as this one is, I don’t necessarily mind knowing how things are going to turn out (and there were a couple of surprises that I enjoyed). But this is a good one to jump into with as little information as possible.
Mini Synopsis: Teen mother Tallulah and her boyfriend leave for their first night out since their baby arrived. When they never return, Tallulah’s mother is distraught. The police run out of leads until Sophie, new to the area and fascinated by the case, stumbles across a curious clue.
What I Liked About This Book: This was a case of the multiple narrative/multiple timeline structure working really well for me. I loved seeing the situation through Sophie’s and Kim’s and Tallulah’s eyes, I loved going back and forth between the night Tallulah disappeared and the present day as Sophie and Kim (with the help of the police) uncover what happened. It felt extremely well balanced and well-paced, and I didn’t feel some of the impatience to churn through the slow reveal of character and secrets and backstory that I do with some other authors.
The characterization, I thought, was wonderful. Kim and Sophie and Tallulah – and their individual personalities – felt rich and fully realized. I really liked each of them, and sympathized with their struggles. Plus, I am a sucker for strong, capable women who do whatever it takes to make things right.
While it seems to me like a lot of readers did not enjoy the ending, I loved it. It was unique and surprising in some ways (although NOT in others). Sure, I can see how it might strain the boundaries of reality a bit, but that doesn’t bother me when a story is told so well and when characters are so believably drawn as they are in this novel.
What I Didn’t Like About This Book: The story was so well-paced for me that the ending felt a little rushed. I wish Jewell had dwelt a little longer on the details of how everything happened, and that she had taken a little more time in describing the villain and said villain’s motivations. Then again, I have seen reviews that felt this book was much too long, so take my critique with a grain of salt! When I love a book and its characters, I want it to last forever.
To that end, I also wish I knew what happened AFTER the book ends. I don’t think I can say more without spoilers, but I just wanted to see five or ten years down the road, and peek in on each of the characters and find out how they were.
Should You Read This Book? If you enjoy Lisa Jewell books, you will not be disappointed with this one. It’s by far my favorite of her novels and I am eager to read whatever she comes up with next.