Good as Gone (Hardcover)

A Novel of Suspense

By Amy Gentry

Houghton Mifflin, 9780544920958, 288pp.

Publication Date: July 26, 2016



Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic--but Anna, Julie's mother, has whispers of doubts. She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.

Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.

Conversation Starters from

  1. When Julie comes home, Anna never expresses joy or even relief. Why? What do you think she is feeling, judging by the clues she drops in her first-person narrative?
  2. At the end of the Prologue, Anna says, “And that…is the story of how I lost my daughter—both of my daughters—everything, everything—in a single night.” How does Julie’s kidnapping cause Anna to lose her other daughter, Jane? What else does Anna lose that night? Who do you think is responsible for these losses?
  3. On page 44, Anna thinks, “I’ve already had the worst thing happen to me that can ever happen to a parent. And now, in a sense, Julie has too. It’s something we share.” What does she mean by this? What about her experiences and Julie’s experiences draw them together? Why doesn’t she feel the same closeness through loss with Jane?
  4. Anna only begins to express the tiniest bit of suspicion when she realizes Julie must have lied to the police about the last time she was raped—after all, she’s just barely pregnant, so the last time clearly wasn’t six months ago. When did you begin to suspect that something about her story was off? What did you think when Julie first went for her hidden cell phone and ID stash?
  5. When Anna speaks to Carol, Julie’s therapist, she tries to get information in hopes it will shed some light on Julie’s lies. Carol explains that Julie’s “not sure how to relate to her family anymore, or to anyone who hasn’t been through what she has.” (p.66) Do you think a person needs to have been through your exact experiences to understand them? How do you feel about Anna’s implicit accusation that Carol doesn’t understand her need because Carol isn’t a parent?
  6. Julie literally takes a walk in Jane’s shoes when she sneaks out in the first chapter we read from her point of view. How else does Julie use physical objects to help her become someone else throughout the story? What do you make of Karen’s “trophies”?
  7. The idea of keeping your children “safe” is a recurring theme in the novel. But what does “safety” really mean when a stranger can come into your home while you’re sleeping and take your child away? Do you think Julie and Jane were ever really safe—are any of us? Discuss how else ideas about “safety” appear in the book.
  8. On page 214, Anna says, “You’re my daughter” to the girl she believes is an impostor posing as her actual daughter, Julie. Describe what is happening in this moment. What do you imagine is happening inside Anna that prompts her to say this? What do you think it means to her in this moment?
  9. What does Julie like about Charlie as they become friends? What ultimately lead her to fall into his trap? Did you find it believable that throughout the unfolding of their relationship—and “the Plan”—no one, not her own parents, not her friend Candyce or her parents, had any clue what was going on? Why or why not?
  10. Julie concludes her telling, finally, of her side of the story with language that parallels Anna’s in the Prologue. Why do you think the author made this choice? How else are the two women’s experiences similar?
  11. On page 267, Anna muses about “the good people” of the world, like Tom and Julie. Consider her thoughts in the context of Esther’s story about trying to be good, but not happy. What is the significance of that lesson for the characters in the novel?
  12. Anna has a habit of using other people’s words, citing quotations from great writers rather than revealing herself with her own words. “All I have is other people’s words,” she confesses. What does she mean? (pg 274) Compare this to Julie’s habit of using other people’s identities. How else do people in the novel hide behind something, or otherwise protect themselves from being vulnerable?
  13. In so many ways, this novel is the story of Anna and Julie—but what about Tom and Jane? They remain close to one another, but Anna is so distant from them both. Even Julie has become distant from Jane—so young Jane recalls in the Prologue—before she disappears. Discuss the ways in which the novel’s title “Good as Gone” applies to this story.