And Then You Were Gone

Synopsis: After years of learning how to manage her bipolar disorder, Emily Firestone finally has it under control. Even better, her life is coming together: she’s got a great job, her own place, and a boyfriend, Paolo, who adores her. So when Paolo suggests a weekend sailing trip, Emily agrees – wine, water, and the man she loves? What could be better? But when Emily wakes the morning after they set sail, the boat is still adrift… and Paolo is gone.

A strong swimmer, there’s no way Paolo drowned, but Emily is at a loss for any other explanation. Where else could he have gone? And why? As the hours and days pass by, each moment marking Paolo’s disappearance, Emily’s hard-won stability begins to slip.

But when Emily uncovers evidence to suggest Paolo was murdered, the investigation throws her mania into overdrive, even as she becomes a person of interest in her own personal tragedy. To clear her name, Emily must find the truth – but can she hold on to her own sanity in the process?

Author: R. J. Jacobs

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

And Then You Were Gone follows Emily, an almost thirty-year-old child psychologist with bipolar disorder, who finds her boyfriend, Paolo, missing while they’re away of a weekend sailing trip. Unconvinced he drowned, Emily sets out on a journey to discover what really happened to Paolo, all while navigating through a hypomanic state she finds herself in as a result of the tragedy and the growing suspicion from the police that she had something to do with his disappearance.

I found Emily an incredibly likeable character. While she made many mistakes, even going so far as to make life-endangering mistakes, her heart was in the right place and, given the circumstances, it’s understandable that she would not be thinking clearly, although I don’t condone the mistakes that she did make. I found Emily to be fierce, strong, and determined. Despite the police growing increasingly suspicious that Emily had something to do with Paolo’s disappearance, Emily was not deterred from giving her everything in her quest to discover the truth.

There was a lot of emphasis on Emily’s bipolar disorder, which I both liked and disliked. Given how much of a part it can play in the lives of those with the disorder, I found this somewhat justifiable, especially considering how Emily finds herself in a hypomanic state during the book. However, it did feel it was a little bit excessive as you were reminded on an almost constant basis that Emily has bipolar disorder. As someone who has no personal experience with bipolar disorder, I can’t tell you whether the portrayal of this condition was correct. However, one of the reasons I was drawn to this book is because the author is a practising psychologist. If anyone should get this disorder correct then it should be a psychologist. However, as mentioned, I don’t have a personal experience with bipolar disorder. If you do, then maybe you could give this a read and let me know your thoughts and opinions. The most important thing about including mental illness in a book is the accurate portrayal of the condition, as well as the awareness it can raise and the stigma it can destroy.

This book was filled with twists and turns. Some I found predictable and dull, others I thought were done very well, which is reflected in the rating of this book. The main plot of the book conflicted me. On one hand, I found the villain somewhat weak, but I loved the whodunit aspect and the back and forth that goes on throughout before the villain is revealed. I’m a sucker for drama and shock factor and this book was packed full with it. I found the reveal at the end to be cruel, although this is not a reflection of the author (well, it is because he wrote it), but more at the fact that this sort of thing does actually happen in real life, which is even more shocking and highlights that the plot to this book is not as far-fetched as it may appear.

This book gave me major Final Girls by Riley Sager vibes. If you liked that book, or any other work by Riley Sager, then I would definitely recommend you read this.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC of And Then You Were Gone in exchange for an honest review.

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