Friday, May 24, 2013
Book Review: He's Gone, by Deb Caletti
by Deb Caletti
Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks
It seems somehow fitting that, when the book blogging world is beginning to buzz with all things Book Expo America (BEA) related, that I'm reviewing a book by an author who would never have made it onto my radar if it wasn't for BEA.
An explanation is probably needed.
You see, back in May 2010, I attended the Book Blogger Convention (as it was called back then, and which is part of BEA) and I happened to sit with this table of bloggers at breakfast.
We'd gotten swag bags, of course, so naturally our talk turned to the books provided to us in the bags.
Amanda (not pictured) was beyond ecstatic to see that a Deb Caletti book was included. Each of us had different titles. Amanda raved about Ms. Caletti's writing. We all swapped books around the table. I'd never heard of Ms. Caletti before that moment, but I figured, why not. When another book blogger likes someone that much, I usually pay attention.
And then The Queen of Everything sat on my bookshelves for another 2.5 years (nearly a year of that in storage) before I picked it up again.
And I loved it.
(The Queen of Everything is a young adult novel, just so those who are purists and don't read YA know of this in advance. But, it's really good.)
So when I saw that TLC Book Tours was offering up Ms. Caletti's first fiction for adults, I knew I wanted in.
And for the most part, I loved this one too. He's Gone represents a nice segue from the young adult market into adult fiction (although I personally don't draw any such literary distinction, as I'm one of those adults who reads YA).
There's still the temptation to categorize Ms. Caletti's fiction as light, but He's Gone is not that. For starters, this novel focuses on the very real, very heavy, and very dark issue of physical and emotional abuse, as told and experienced through the eyes of Dani Keller. Married with the typical issues that befall blended families, Dani and Ian seem to have a typical life of professional success. They live somewhat comfortably on a houseboat in Seattle, drawing little attention to themselves, until one morning when Ian turns up missing following a party with Dani and his colleagues.
Unfortunately, Dani's not too much help in the investigation, as she's had a bit too much to drink and her memory of the night's events is fuzzy, at best. For some in the novel, she's an easy character to cast judgment on; her role as "the other woman," "the homewrecker") has lent itself to many opportunities for blame and scorn from Ian's ex-wife and his kids. She also sees herself to blame, too - which is common for people who have been victims of domestic violence.
While she doesn't remember the actual circumstances that led up to Ian's disappearance, what Dani does remember is the beatings and the verbal abuse from her ex-husband Mark which had her seeing Ian as someone who could rescue her. Now, as she tries to do whatever she can to rescue Ian, Dani reflects on the reasons she initially turned toward him as she discovers who really is the missing person in their relationship.
Ms. Caletti, a National Book Award finalist, kept me turning the pages, constantly wondering did he ... and maybe she did ... or maybe they did .... He's Gone is an engrossing, psychological read that has been compared by some to Gillian Flynn's bestselling Gone Girl for the mindbending directions it takes the reader.
That being said, there were a few things about He's Gone that left me puzzled and wondering. It's hard to say too much without spoiling the plot - and I'm not a detective or a mystery reader so what the hell do I know? - but there were some aspects of the police investigation into Ian's disappearance that seemed strange. Like ... possibilities that could have been looked into a bit more thoroughly.
That's all I'm sayin'.
But I was happy with the way the novel was resolved, and I'll certainly be reading more of Ms. Caletti's work ... so that's really all that matters, right?
TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. I was provided with a copy of He's Gone in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation for this post.
Read more about He's Gone and what other bloggers thought here.
For more information about Deb Caletti and her other books, visit her website at www.debcaletti.com.
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