Good as Goneby Amy Gentry
Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is
Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts. She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter. Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.
The life of Anna Davalos, the narrator of Gentry’s suspenseful if flawed first novel, has been defined by a single night—when her 13-year-old daughter, Julie, was abducted at knifepoint by an intruder into their Houston home, a crime witnessed by her terrified 10-year-old daughter, Jane. Eight years later, Anna’s relationship with Jane is strained, and no one is looking for Julie any more. Anna’s life is upended again when Julie shows up on her doorstep, traumatized physically and mentally. Julie’s account of her captivity is harrowing, but Anna soon suspects that Julie isn’t being completely honest about what happened. Those doubts extend to the basic question of whether the young woman is really Julie or a manipulative, cynical imposter. As the family adjusts to the new reality, Anna’s relationships with her husband and Jane suffer. Gentry does a good job of making the characters, especially Anna, psychologically plausible, but the final revelation is a letdown. Agent: Sharon Pelletier, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (July)
A New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice" An Entertainment Weekly "Must List" Pick A Refinery 29 "Suspense Thriller You'll Love" A "Skimm Reads" Pick "[One] of the most anticipated summer thrillers...Gentry's novel isn't primarily about the version of the self that comes from a name and a family of origin; instead, it draws our attention to the self that's forged from sheer survival, and from the clarifying call to vengeance." —The New York Times Book Review "Gentry’s debut novel is more than worthy of the analogy [to Gillian Flynn’s 2012 smash, Gone Girl]…it’s so gripping you might start to question your own family’s past." —Entertainment Weekly "So much about this novel is fresh and insightful and decidedly not like every other thriller…Good as Gone ranks as an outstanding debut, well worth reading. This is no mere Gone Girl wannabe.” —The Dallas Morning News “A mother, a daughter, a zealot, an investigator, a family, a stripper, and more than a few survivors lay the riveting groundwork, but it's Amy Gentry's realistic portrayals of victims and their families that set Good as Gone apart from other page-turning crime dramas...The end result is a true ‘novel of suspense’: a book that's hard to put down not only because of our investment in the plot, but also because of our investment in the lives of the complicated characters.” —The Austin Chronicle "Compelling and emotionally nuanced." —The Seattle Times "This smart, crisply written thriller begins with a ‘ripped from the headlines’ premise, but broadens to explore themes ranging from the mothering of daughters to the inwardness of suburban life and the lure of the megachurch in an era of consumerism.” —The Minneapolis Star Tribune “Both a mother-daughter and a family-under-fire story, Good as Gone is laden with confused identities and a thrumming plot. Amy Gentry's debut also holds a mirror up to the myriad ways rape culture is perpetuated.” —Bustle “Good as Gone…confirms the entrance of a powerful new voice in the world of crime fiction—Gentry knows crime fiction as a critic and as a writer, and brings her experiences with her for a novel that is as playful and self-aware in its structure as it is responsible in its themes.”—MysteryPeople "If you love a measured and thought-provoking novel of suspense, with one eye on character study and one eye on a city’s conflicted culture, this might just be the next book for you.” —Crime by the Book "Debut novelist Gentry delivers on genre expectations with crisp, unobtrusive writing and well-executed plot twists." —Kirkus Reviews "Clever perspective changes give Gentry's debut building suspense...Fans of Paula Hawkin's The Girl on the Train will enjoy the shifting points of view and the complex female characters, and those who liked Samantha Hunt's Mr. Splitfoot will appreciate the seedy characters and haunting theme of childhood vulnerability...Gentry's depiction of a family working through immense suffering will connect with many readers." —Booklist "Gentry’s treatment is effective, with a swift-moving narrative and an interesting backstory for Julie and engrossing insight into Anna’s ambivalence and grief...A good pick for fans of mysteries, thrillers, and family drama." —Library Journal “Amy Gentry has burst out of the gate with a monumentally intelligent, wily thriller about identity, vengeance, and homecoming that introduces readers to some of the most badass female characters on the shelf. Good as Gone is a river that shoots the reader deftly through rapids, over cliffs, past eerie vistas to a shocking, elegant and well-earned ending. Do yourself a favor: jump in.“—Kelly Luce, author of Pull Me Under “A bracing, scarily honest look at what it means to be female—and to be a daughter, sister, wife, mother—wrapped up in a vicious thriller. Gentry's ambitious debut will satisfy fans of Gone Girl, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and The Killing.”—Merritt Tierce, author of Love Me Back “Unreliability sets the tone for this page-turner as it begins with a kidnapping where the only witness is the victim's a ten-year-old sister. Pitting innocence and earnestness against criminality and manipulation, this novel, with its deft twists and turns, will leave you haunted long after the final page...You need to read this book. Like a literary James Patterson, this is a not-to-miss debut.”—Steph Opitz, book reviewer, Marie Claire
A kidnapped girl, missing for eight years, shows up on her parents' doorstep…but is it really her?Houston, Texas, literature prof Anna Whitaker lives in an etiolated reality where she has to get out of bed every morning "to face a world where the worst thing has already happened and somehow I am still alive." In the eight years since her 13-year-old daughter, Julie, was abducted, she has given up hope, watching numbly as her marriage and her relationship with her other daughter, who witnessed the kidnapping, are strained to the breaking point. But in Chapter 2, Julie shows up on the front porch, having narrowly escaped from a human trafficking ring and the man she was sold to. The chapters that follow narrate Anna's experience as the shock and euphoria wear off and she comes to suspect that this blonde, blue-eyed young woman is not really her daughter. These alternate with sections that follow what seem to be one or more runaway girls through various scenarios of sexual abuse, life on the streets, foster homes, and other miseries. "By the time she got to San Francisco, she'd lost track of the men who got her there, but at least she remembered their names. Their names were Pete. Two Petes in the bus station. A Pete in the bathroom of a Diamond Shamrock gas station.…She turned 14 between Petes, but she wasn't sure when exactly the day passed, and anyway to Petes she was 16, to police, 18." These back-and-forth points of view which eventually dovetail in the big reveal (and the big reversal) are a popular tactic for the emotional thriller, especially since the success of Gone Girl, at which this book's title seems to consciously take aim. Debut novelist Gentry delivers on genre expectations with crisp, unobtrusive writing and well-executed plot twists.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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- 9.10(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
AMY GENTRY lives in Austin, Texas and is a book reviewer for the Chicago Tribune whose work has also appeared in Salon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Best Food Writing of 2014. Good as Gone is her first novel.
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Keeps you hooked from the first page.
Would have given 4 or even 5 stars but writing style is confusing. Just a little hard to follow going between a first and third person narrative. Otherwise an engrossing story.
This thriller starts out with a young girl witnessing the abduction of her 13-year-old sister. Julie is missing for eight years until she one day appears on the doorstep of her family's home. Questions arise in the mother, Anna, as to whether this is really Julie or someone's depraved way of taking more from this already shattered family. Anna's one-woman search for the truth, told in chronological order, intertwines with "Julie's" story, told in reverse order, from present to past, until readers reach both women's present lives and the truth about Julie is revealed. It's a tricky and difficult way of writing but, for the most part, Gentry does a good job at it, though the reader has to take a step back and fit the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out what is going on. Getting through a couple of Julie's chapters will help the reader understand the regression, but it's a bit confusing at first, especially since "Julie" goes by other names at different times in her life. The story is in part reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart abduction case, but there's a lot going on in this book and it can be a bit much to wade through. And some of it's a bit unbelievable. For instance, as a parent, the first thought in my mind was, Why aren't the parents, especially Anna, not certain this is their daughter? The image of Julie must have been emblazoned in their minds and revisited daily, every freckle, every mole, scar, gesture, or action; how she walked, how she talked, how she cried, and how she laughed. After all, eight years isn't all that long. But without Anna's questioning who this person is (and without doing any DNA testing, which is bizarrely but conveniently avoided), there wouldn't be a story. This book is readable, a bit gritty at times, and it flows pretty well. Yes, there are comparisons to Gone Girl and Girl on a Train--and the title was a bit too similar (on purpose, I assume), but the fact that I wanted to return to this book to reach the conclusion, as I did with the other two, shows there was plenty of suspense.
Amy Gentry's new novel, Good as Gone, takes inspiration from real life events. (There are many similarities to the Elizabeth Smart case) Eight years ago, thirteen year old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom at her parent's home. Her younger sister Jane witnesseD the crime from her hiding spot. Terrified, she didn't alert her parents for three hours. By that time, there was no trace of Julie and chances of finding her were slim...... ....until the day when a young woman knocks at the door. Could it really be Julie returned? Her parents are ecstatic - in the beginning. While Dad's faith that this is his daughter never wavers, Mom Anna has serious doubts. As does the reader. Gentry plays with the reader, giving the returned Julie her own voice and flashback chapters that plant the same seeds of doubt in our minds. Julie/Not Julie's life is hard to read about. I did like the present to past timeline for Julie/Not Julie's chapters. As the book progresses we get closer to the night - and the reason Julie/Not Julie was taken. The emotional upheaval of the return, the guilt, the questions, family dynamics and the mother/daughter relationships are also viewed and explored through Jane and Anna's points of view. I did find the police investigation into the return somewhat lacking. The night she returns, she is not even taken to a hospital. The question of whether it is Julie or not would seem to be easy to confirm with DNA. (Yes, that pragmatic nature of mine always asks these questions) I think the 'novel of suspense' moniker on the cover, may be a bit ambitious. I liked the book, but didn't find it overly suspenseful. Instead I saw it as a page turner - bit of mystery and a journey to the final answer - it it Julie or isn't it?
In 'Room,' the story was disturbing but important and told with genius. This is neither.