HERE AND GONE: A NOVEL, BY HAYLEN BECK
PUBLICATION: CROWN; JUNE 20, 2017
About the book:
It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone then she must have done something with them…
Meanwhile, halfway across the country, a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.
For fans of suspense thrillers, this is your next read! Here and Gone by Haylen Beck is an absolute nail-biter! Audra is traveling across the country with her two children Sean and Louise. She is trying to get to a friend’s home in California to prevent her abusive ex-husband from getting the children when she is pulled over by a Sheriff in a tiny Arizona town. Here’s where all hell breaks loose and every parents’ worse nightmare occurs. Audra is placed under arrest and placed into the back of the Sherriff’s car. She watches as another Deputy loads her kids into their car and is told that the Deputy will get the children safely to the station and make any arrangements needed for their care. However, once Audra is in her jail cell and asks the Sheriff about her children, his reply to her is, “what children?”
I loved this novel from start to finish but can I say stressful!! Audra is in jail in this tiny, backward town, her children are missing, and she is being blamed. Luckily, a man named Danny hears about the story on the news and finds it frighteningly familiar to a situation with his own wife and daughter, prompting him to head to Arizona in the hopes of helping Audra and possibly finding whoever took his daughter.
One of the key points in all of this frustrating mess is Audra’s past as an alcoholic and drug user. Despite how long she has been clean, the media quickly starts painting a picture of a horrible, neglectful parent. No one believes her version of the story that the kids were with her when she was pulled over, and no one is questioning the Sherriff’s word. This novel made me want to scream and pull my hair out so many times because of the narrow-minded media and law enforcement involved in the story, but it was worth it. This novel was fast-paced, suspenseful, terrifying, frustrating – but incredible.
The character development in this novel is amazing in that there are numerous important characters but the author took his time with each and every one of them. I felt like I knew them all like the back of my hand. Not wanting to give spoilers regarding “whodunnit” I can’t go into this too deeply, but the transformation of some of the characters throughout the story is remarkable. The weak and helpless become empowered where the “bad guys” seemingly unravel before your eyes.
Here and Gone is an edge-of-your-seat novel that I highly suggest reading with a glass of wine nearby to keep yourself calm. Anyone that is a parent will likely find this book just as traumatic, leaving you to wonder, could something like this really happen? I finished this one yesterday afternoon but still keep catching myself thinking about what happened to this family. I cannot praise Here and Gone and author Haylen Beck enough!
*Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review.