Update: the winner of of this giveaway is Nancy Pate. She has been notified via email. Thanks to everyone who entered. Please check back soon for more great book reviews and giveaways!
I used to drive an ancient Saab named Lemon to and from Oberlin College, a twelve to fourteen hour drive from the Boston suburbs, with other students I knew, or with people who found my flyer flapping tabs on the union bulletin board. I’d retrofitted the sagging ceiling with a sound system for the radio and tongue-in-groove wood ceiling, but she was still a lemon of a car. Most of the time, we split the cost of gas, and sang every show tune we ever learned for the first ten hours or so, until our throats were raw and some of us were falling asleep. Sometimes I picked up the wrong person—someone who would short me the twenty five in gas money, or who sat back and farted and complained about road noise and didn’t join in the singing, but mostly, I was lucky. On one trip in particular I brought with me Noah and Jeff, and somewhere in Pennsylvania after grinding gears for a while after a toll booth, the stick-shift lever broke off and we had to hold the ragged metal stump in third gear and drive in the break-down lane all the rest of the way.
This particular drive isn’t in the book, but the idea of reckless trust, of the particular raw desire and bravado of young adulthood is right in there. Sometimes things seemed so urgent that were not urgent (and we had no cell phones to text the ex-boyfriend and ask him what he meant by signing his last note with “love”), and things that could have been a disaster (I didn’t have enough gas money for the whole trip—and the breakdown lane or the guy who knew someone I knew but I’d never met could have been really dangerous) were just an adrenaline-inducing addition to the background music.
We all make choices we regret—we all get lucky with some of them. The space between embarrassing mistake end deadly one almost seems like a single clock-tick. I wanted to write about how that impulsiveness, how the imbalances we ascribe to young adulthood, might fit into lives at any stage. How everyone is looking out of the windows at the same thing, but seeing something different.
I wrote When She Was Gone with mistakes in mind, with multiple narrators who make multiple mistakes—Reeva sees a pink sweatshirt that could be Linsey’s, off-stage, Mr. Leonard lets love go, Abigail thinks she is paying attention to her daughter when in fact she isn’t seeing the very things she’s looking for. I was fitting pieces as I wrote, thinking of those optical illusions where in one direction, you see the profile of an old hag, and if you squint, you see a maiden of beauty and grace. I think living in the world is just like that—sometimes you look at something twice, and it is entirely different.
We’ve got a copy of WHEN SHE WAS GONE up for grabs today. As usual, just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win.
What happened to Linsey Hart? When the Cornell-bound teenager disappears into the steamy blue of a late-summer morning, her quiet neighborhood is left to pick apart the threads of their own lives and assumptions.
Linsey’s neighbors are just ordinary people—but even ordinary people can keep terrible secrets hidden close. There’s Linsey’s mother, Abigail, whose door-to-door searching makes her social-outcast status painfully obvious; Mr. Leonard, the quiet, retired piano teacher with insomnia, who saw Linsey leave; Reeva, the queen bee of a clique of mothers, now obsessed with a secret interest; Timmy, Linsey’s lovelorn ex-boyfriend; and George, an eleven-year-old loner who is determined to find out what happened to his missing neighbor.
As the days of Linsey’s absence tick by, dread and hope threaten to tear a community apart. This luminous new novel by the acclaimed author of The Orphan Sister explores coming of age in the shadows of a suburban life, and what is revealed when the light suddenly shines in. . . .
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.