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About If You’re Gone
Lillian White was planning for the perfect summer- spending every waking minute at the lake with her heartthrob boyfriend, Brad Lee. But her world is shattered when Brad mysteriously disappears the night of his graduation ceremony- the same night he tells her he loves her for the first time. After law enforcement dismisses the case, classifying Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his family. Not from his friends. Not from her.
Heartbroken but determined to find answers, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship. Will the truth lead her to him? Or are Brad’s lies just the beginning of the mystery?
I liked that this story explores a different side of a missing person case. While Lil believes only something terrible would keep her boyfriend Brad from coming home, she can’t help but be concerned about the things he kept from her. She believes he must be out there somewhere, which only makes it harder for her to find her way through her grief process—something she struggles to communicate to her family and friends.
Her mom’s response to Brad’s disappearance frustrated me. I felt like there were several characters all hitting the same flat note where they had used up all their patience and compassion and sort of wanted Lil to snap out of her depression and worry. I’m sure that’s a realistic experience, but I guess some of the similarities in response made some of the scenes and characters feel repetitive or two-dimensional.
The end definitely wasn’t what I expected, which I also found appealing in concept. What was harder, though, was that there are several things that happen in close succession near the end which feel like sharp turns, and I felt like I didn’t always understand the abrupt changes in Lil or the people around her. It felt like there should have been more explanation or a slower progression or some additional development to better anchor those changes into the story.
Overall, though, If You’re Gone is a quick read with an unusual take on a popular YA theme. If you’re into missing person stories, put this one on your list.
Few race/cultural details. Most characters seem to be white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief kissing between a boy and girl.
Lil prays sometimes, usually in the desperate way of someone overwhelmed and longing for God to ease burdens. She and her family attend church regularly, and church values are a significant part of Lil’s life.
Lil celebrates with friends, sharing a bottle of champagne with them.