“You’ll find yourself having to remember to breathe.”
-Reviewer Tony Burnett on Amy Gentry’s Good as Gone
GOOD AS GONE
by Amy Gentry
Published in 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
reviewed by Tony Burnett
Eight years after Julie was silently abducted from the bedroom next to her young sister while her mother and father slept downstairs, the remaining family dynamic has persevered. Though they each carry their own private burden of guilt, the family has not quite imploded. When a young woman shows up at the door claiming to be Julie, the joy is overshadowed by the opening of old wounds, especially as Julie’s mother, Anna, begins to suspect the woman is not her daughter.
Amy Gentry’s debut novel, Good As Gone, takes the genre of domestic suspense to a level of intensity rarely experienced. The superb writing explores not only the depth of the characters but the extremes of their ability to cope with the unknown or, in some cases, not to cope with what is known. The narrative perfectly balances the scalding plot progression with a definitive internal conflict of a family whose tender scars are ripped wide open.
The point of view moves through the members of the family as well as the chameleon-like identities “Julie” has assumed for the sake of survival. This complex character examination is a powerful study of identity and cohesion when challenged by the extremes of physical and emotional stress. Gentry presents her protagonist’s unlikely manifestations with the humanity required to make the reader not only believe but empathize with the conviction required to keep the pages turning. The Northwest Houston setting is so accurately portrayed as to coax the reader into feeling he is a neighbor in the cul-de-sac on the next subdivision over.
The novel explores cultural mores and relationships ranging from homeless street survivors, through back alley blues bar divas, to the garishly pristine power and greed of the largest mega-church pastors.
If you are fascinated by the depths of depravity human beings will assume to control others, this story will amaze and horrify you. Good As Gone is a must read for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Kim Addonizio, and B.A. Paris. I rarely encounter a novel that grabs my attention to the extent that all other concerns fall by the wayside. You’ll find yourself having to remember to breathe.