A Different Kind of Gone, a review by Joanna

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A Different Kind of Gone

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Lake Union Publishing

293 pages


A Different Kind of Gone is the latest contemporary drama by the Queen of compelling character creation, Catherine Ryan Hyde. This one tackles the troubling topic of domestic abuse, and raises the question of whether it’s right that a violent man faces prison for a crime that he might’ve, but didn’t actually commit. I’ve read about fourteen of her books, including the last ten, and adored most of them, so if this gets four stars it’s only because I wasn’t quite so engaged this time, compared to some of the others – but it’s still a great story – she sets a very high bar for feelgood fiction.

Middle-aged divorcee Norma Gallagher lives with her faithful dogs and horse in the small town of Sloot, works in a bar, and volunteers for her local search & rescue team. When a young woman disappears from a campsite, Norma is afraid of finding her dead, but not prepared for the reality of a frightened teenager desperate to escape her abusive boyfriend Jake. Despite her misgivings, Norma keeps Jill’s secret, but then Jake is arrested five years later for the attempted murder of his wife, and also charged with killing Jill. Can Norma allow a miscarriage of justice to proceed if her silence might save two lives?
Unusually for this author, the story is told from the perspective of an older character, and it features young adults rather than children, but they are still extraordinarily kind and thoughtful young people. There are of course loveable animals – and don’t worry, nothing sad happens to any of them. As ever, the focus here is on inter-generational friendship and unconventional relationships, rather than romantic love. I liked misanthropic Norma’s gradual embrace of her new “extended family” and the way she opens her mind to different points of view, without sacrificing her own moral principles. I didn’t predict how the plot would turn out, but did like the resolution even if the ending did peter out somewhat.
Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC. I am posting this honest review voluntarily.

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