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Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartlin

This book has made me a fan of Anna McPartlin.  There's only one other title by McPartlin in the county library system, and after I've read that one I either have to track the others down through ILL or recommend her other titles be added to our library.  Unless I hate the one at home in which case I won't bother with the others.  McPartlin is an Irish writer; she lives in Ireland and her novels are set in Ireland.  In Ireland and the UK Alexandra, Gone was published as So What If I'm Broken and apparently, according to her website, McPartlin hated the latter title and much preferred the title under which the novel was published in the US.  I don't know that I hate the UK title, but the US title makes more sense.  Having read the novel, I'm not really sure the UK title fits the story and we all know how annoying it is when a title has no connection to the story--please see The Dead Travel Fast's review from a couple weeks ago for a refresher.

As girls Alexandra and Jane were best friends.  Then Jane got pregnant at 17 and left school to raise her son while Alexandra went away for college.  The friends lost touch and haven't seen each other since.  Years later when coincidence puts Jane and her self-absorbed, unstable, creative genius sister, Elle in an elevator with Tom, Alexandra's desperate husband, and a stranger named Leslie.  Tom is desperate because months ago Alexandra vanished from a Dublin suburb and since then has not been seen nor heard from and all leads on the case have gone cold.

After their meeting in the elevator, a friendship blooms between the four former strangers who become united in one cause: raising awareness about Alexandra's disappearance in an effort to bring her home.  While Alexandra's mysterious disappearance and unknown fate are the impetus for the friends' bond and for the story, the story's focus is not the stereotypical whodunit mystery of where Alexandra has gone.  Instead this is the story of the months after her disappearance as told from the perspective of her friends and family and its effects on their lives and relationships.  Jane, Tom, Elle and Jane each have their own demons with which to wrestle and through their friendship each finds the strength to move on.

Capable of both humor and heartrendingly sad passages throughout the story, this is a beautifully written novel that is hard to put down.  The friends' journeys are as compelling as the mystery of Alexandra's disappearance.  I recommend you check out this book the next time you're in the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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