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"Gwendolen Gross uses the disappearance of a young woman to tell the story of a community in crisis, and her gaze is both unflinching and surprisingly tender. When She Was Gone is a dark but elegantly crafted book, the tension building toward a climax that promises redemption to its wayward characters."
“Gwendolen Gross creates characters so familiar they could live next door. Her new novel, When She Was Gone, reflects a perfect balance of darkness and intricate struggles, woven together with hope and redemption. Abigail, Reeva, and Mr. Leonard’s voices form some of the most powerful and beautiful language I’ve read in quite a while. Mix in a nail-biting plot and you have one outstanding read.”
"Death, life, redemption and music combine in a rewarding novel."
"Similar in title and theme to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Gross’s fifth novel feels more genuine in that her characters are less contrived. Gross deftly depicts the dread-filled unfolding of a mother’s realization that her child is missing and clearly portrays how a crisis of this nature unearths alliances and fissures within a community."
“Engaging and sentence-perfect, wonderful in so many ways, but I love it best for its vibrant, emotionally complex main character Clementine. I felt so entirely with her, as she loves those around her with both devotion and complexity and as she struggles to achieve a delicate balance between belonging to others and being herself.”
“With exquisite language and an empathetic ear, Gwendolen Gross paints a gorgeous portrait of life, love, loss and sisterhood, and forces you to ask yourself: how far will you go for your family and what secrets can shatter even that bond? The Orphan Sister will linger long after you’ve turned the final page.”
"Breathtakingly original. A haunting exploration of love, loyalty, sisters, hope, and the ties that bind us together—and make the ground tremble beneath us when they break. I loved, loved, loved this novel."
“This charming portrait of an impossibly gorgeous and gifted family is something rare: a delightful confection, filled with humor and warmth, that also probes the complex nature of identity, the vagaries of romantic and filial love, and the materialism inherent in contemporary American culture."
Verdict Similar in title and theme to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Gross’s fifth novel (after The Orphan Sister) feels more genuine in that her characters are less contrived. Gross deftly depicts the dread-filled unfolding of a mother’s realization that her child is missing and clearly portrays how a crisis of this nature unearths alliances and fissures within a community.—Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
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Posted March 15, 2013
It's almost time for the new school year to begin and Linsey Hart is about to go off to school at Cornell. Early one morning Linsey walks off and just disappears. Leaving behind her family and community to wonder and speculate what happened.
When She Was Gone opens up the doors to numerous households in Linsey's small suburban neighborhood and allows it's readers to see inside. As the neighborhood grapples with the young girls' disappearance, they are also struggling to keep their own secrets buried.
The story is told with numerous vantage points from her mother to a young boy who is an outcast, but who might just hold the answers in his collection of 'things'.
This isn't just a story about what happened to Linsey, but a story about what goes on behind closed doors of her neighborhood--uncensored. As the reader, we get to see everything they are really doing and thinking. Abigal's (Linsey's mother) whole world is turned upside down she can barely function and yet when she goes door to door to find out if her neighbors may have seen anything, one neighbor closes the door on her face. Gross really pulled down the veil and exposes some deep down truths.
I am definitely one who always wonders who are people really when I can't see them, so I really enjoyed getting the all access pass. During most of the book, I can't say I was really vested in any of the neighbors stories. For me the aspect that kept drawing me in further was the mystery of what really happened to Linsey. It was like the more I found out the less I really knew. Then at the end of the novel it felt like suddenly all those doors I had been peeping in were suddenly closed, I was once again shut out of their personal lives. I realized I'd been more connected to these characters than I thought.
I was completely hooked! There were a number of moments where I was reading along, while holding my breath! I am a huge fan of Gwendolen Gross's writing style--smart and precise. I highly recommened When She Was Gone!
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Posted January 17, 2014
Posted April 13, 2013
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
A new and interesting way to tell the story of a missing girl, by sharing the stories and the impact of her disappearance through the eyes of her neighbors; both young and old. Edited by starting each chapter by their address was unique, but at times confusing; I liked that this book shows how living in a neighborhood we overlap each other and come out of experiences with different viewpoints.
Posted April 10, 2013
Posted March 29, 2013
26 Sycamore Street is where Linsey Hart was before she disappeared in Gwendolen Gross’ latest novel, When She Was Gone.
Linsey Hart would be leaving her quiet New Jersey neighborhood to attend her first year at Cornell College in a few short days. However, there’s a problem. She’s gone missing. The last person to see her alive was her eccentric neighbor Mr. Leonard—former music teacher who lives at 24 Sycamore Street. Chronic insomnia was as much a curse as a gift for Leonard given the endless hours he spent awake and completely enrapt in his ongoing ritual of composing music. He was uncertain whether he heard Linsey whispering into her phone from the safety of her front porch rocker the night before or maybe it was the voices inside his own head…
In the early morning dawn the next day and long before respectable small town communities embrace the new day dawning, Linsey quietly slipped out the front door of her 26 Sycamore home; taped her note to the mailbox and continued down the steps. As she adjusted the strap to her duffle, she didn’t bother to look back as she placed one foot in front of the other. Perhaps if she had, she would have noticed the breeze that kicked up and did not subside until it released her note taped to the box. Nobody was there to witness its departure as it cascaded down to the porch below and effortlessly slipped through the crack before landing in its final resting place in the foundation below.
Maybe Linsey’s decision to go missing was because her mother, Abigail, spent way too much time planning every facet of her life—the most recent implementation being the insistence Linsey break up with her boyfriend Timmy. There was no point for the two of them to continue seeing each other. Timmy was headed to California for college while Linsey would remain on the East Coast. Abigail rationalized her mandate further by insisting Linsey was too young for an ever after union at this juncture in her young life. The reality that Linsey has gone missing accelerates when Abigail’s forty-something, over-sexed housewife/mother and neighbor, Helena, at 6 ½ Sycamore Street enlightens her with the fact Linsey never showed up for her summer babysitting gig that particular date. If only that note hadn’t slipped between the cracks on the porch hours earlier.
Ms. Gross was very consistent in painting clear images with her words as she introduced each of her characters who lived on Sycamore Street. However, beyond that, Ms. Gross disallowed the reader to engage and formulate his or her own mood because she overcompensated with an abundance of analogous and metaphorical depictions. This is not meant to be a slight as much as an observation. Generally speaking, one of the more prominent pleasures I look forward to when reading a good story is to have the opportunity to formulate my own opinion based on the scene or situation played out across the pages. It entices me to turn the pages to find out what happens next. There is no question Ms. Gross was directing her audience. However, she controlled too much of the story with her analogies and metaphors which disallowed this reader to wonder what would potentially happen next. However, I will give her credit for her portrayal of the relationship between mother, Abigail and daughter, Linsey. I have a ‘baby’ on her way to college this year. It’s a monumental time in a mother and daughter’s life and I think Ms. Gross was very connected in not only conveying the imminent change on her two characters’ horizons but what that would mean for both women as well.
Quill says: When She Was Gone is a solid depiction of the contrasts between belonging (or not) with an ending that is far from predictable.