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? Read an excerpt of Good as Gone.