Title: The Night She Disappeared
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genre: Psychological Thriller
# of pages: 416
Published on: 22nd July
Published by: Penguin UK
Jewell adds layers to her thrillers, so the readers start with a minuscule event which gives way to a much larger issue.
In the summer of 2017, Tallulah Murray and her boyfriend Zach Allister go to a local pub for a date, but they never come back. Two teenagers disappeared from Upfield Common without any trace. Kim, Tallulahs’mother is devastated. Her life changes in a matter of a few hours. Tallulah and her boyfriend Zach had a baby together, Noah. Kim has to raise him in the absence of his parents. She wonders what will she ever tell him when he grows up.
Sophie, a writer of Nordic noir novels, moves to Upfield Common with her partner around the late summer of 2018. Her partner, Shaun, is the headteacher of Maypole School, the local school of Upfield Common. When Sophie hears about the disappearance of the two kids that rocked the town more than a year back, she is intrigued. Her inner writer, who writes and solves a mystery for a living, takes precedence. She starts digging around to find out what exactly happened to these kids.
The book spreads over three timelines. In the 2016 timeline, the readers get to know about Tallulah, the college-going girl. She is getting back to her life after the birth of her son, Noah. The chapters show her relationship with her mother and her son. A young girl is a mother, and when she goes to college, she is the odd one out. She constantly has an inner fight if she is doing the right thing by going back to college. She eventually decides that she will continue studying not just for herself but for her son as well. She handles life situations well; she is a doting mother and does not mind letting go of the joys of college life for her son. In these chapters, readers will also read about the introduction of Zach and the background of their relationship.
In the 2018 timeline, Sophie comes into the picture and her popularity as a writer. She comes from a different background. Sophie lived in London and loved the vibrant life of the city. Moving to Upfield Common is a step-down but, she is stepping up in her relationship with Shaun. The stress of moving to a new place puts her in weird headspace that stops her from writing. She is trying to figure out to start writing again when she comes across the disappearance case.
The readers read about Kim and her reaction from the timeline in 2017. But her life progresses as a mother who lost hope, but as a grandmother who has to make sure her grandson has a decent life. Initially, she was overwhelmed. She never imagined she would have to raise little Noah herself. The thought her daughter would never get the chance to graduate or be a mother to Noah made Kim sad.
The theme of the book relates to relationships and abusive behaviour. Sometimes even the closest of people do not see the signs. It also revolved around the social disparity between rich and poor, where the rich have the power to dispose of people and have no qualms about it.
The story is in layers and depicts complex human emotions and situations. There is nothing black and white about them. Jewell can wrap a contemporary social issue in such a way that makes readers think about it.
The book has a small pool of characters which makes it easy to navigate. Each of the characters are well developed and fleshed out. The pace of the plot is perfect. It never slows down for a moment to lose attention.
The book is intriguing. It is easy for readers to place themselves in Sophie’s shoes and starts putting the clues together.
The Night She Disappeared is a psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes until the last page.
Thank you, NetGalley and Penguin UK, for the copy of the ebook in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.