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Review: He's Gone by Deb Caletti

The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on a Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But in this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light, from it intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, tunring over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.

A suspenseful novel from beginning to end, He’s Gone deals with the inner turmoil all humans face of doing the right or wrong thing, being nice or mean, and being strong or cowardice. He’s Gone also makes you analyze how much you truly love someone and what things you are willing to do and put up with for them. Most importantly, this novel takes a look into the world of adultery and how everything is not as black and white as we like to hope and there is a different opinion from every perspective. 

Our story begins with our leading lady, Dani waking up alone thinking about what would happen if she just left as well as waking up to her husband being gone. Of course Dani just assumes he is blowing off steam (or blowing her off) because of the fight they had the night before and thus she thinks nothing of it. Yet hours tick by and she hasn’t heard from him. Is he still just trying to be mean or did something really happen?

Now Dani is really worried. It’s the next day and Ian hasn’t called back or even come home. Thus she has to call the police but not only that, Dani has to call Ian’s daughters (from his previous marriage) and possibly his ex-wife (the woman Dani stole Ian from), to see if they know of his whereabouts. And with the fight looming over her head, Dani wonders if he just left altogether, to spite her, making her question their marriage and if it was such a good idea. 

Pushing all her concerns aside, Dani tries to remember the last night she was with Ian, trying to remember some small detail that will help her figure out what happened to her husband. Only there is one problem, Dani can’t remember the last time she was with Ian. Well, she can remember the party, that dress he had her wear, his tight jawline, her aching feet and sleep. But everything else is a blank. Suddenly Dani realizes she doesn’t have the slightest idea of what could have happened to Ian. 

Of course this only makes matters worse with the police. If she can’t even remember whether or not he came to bed with her that night, it would appear she had something to do with his disappearance. But surely Dani would never do anything to Ian. In fact, she’s sure of it. What she isn’t sure of, is where he’s gone. 

Dani is certain Ian left her and is being spiteful. Being married to Ian was like being married to “Mr. Perfect.” He was always so critical and he never made any mistakes. So of course that meant Dani made too many mistakes, which Ian had no problem pointing out. Thus something Dani’s therapist (from her separation from the abusive ex-husband Mark) said comes back to mind, “A person always carries their true self with them,” or something to that effect. Which makes Dani believe that the Ian she is married to is the same Ian Mary (the ex-wife) had to endure. Which makes her wonder if they weren’t doomed from the start and this was always going to happen, him leaving her? 

More days have gone by and the police suspect her even more as the culprit, plus there is the deal with the mystery cuff link left on her doorstep for Ian, which confirms Dani’s guess that Ian did leave her but now for another woman. And Dani takes a closer look at her marriage, seeing that maybe she was never good enough for Ian. That Ian had lost his home and the love of his daughters for a simple life with her and the consolation was no prize. The further Dani deeps to find out what happened to Ian, the further she looks into her marriage to see the flaws that were always there, questioning the man she married and the woman she was trying to be versus who she really is. 

I must confess, I read ahead before I finished the book and discovered what really happened to Ian. Yet despite knowing how it all ended, there were so many twists and turns throughout the novel that I wasn’t sure how it all matched out to the end. Not to say that the novel was confusing but that there was still some surprises to be had. He’s Gone takes you further back in time while simultaneously propelling forward in the future, delving deeper into the up and downs of love, marriage and fidelity. He’s Gone also looks at the issue of right and wrong and which situations is it okay to sometimes be wrong and give up trying to do the right thing. However, it still teaches the value of doing the right thing and the consequences of doing wrong. Most importantly, this novel makes you take a look at yourself and wonder of what you truly are capable of and what you are willing to put up with and live without. As I stated a suspenseful as well as thought provoking read that will keep you guessing about the book as well as life itself.

Reviewed by Camia Rhodes

Book Information
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 5/14/2013
Pages: 352

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