Here and Gone, written by Haylen Beck, is nearly 300 pages of an emotional and violent roller coaster, featuring abducted children, a woman in recovery, and the way the media portrays the mistakes one has made in the past. For parents of small children, I urge you to put this book off to the side for some time because it is going to fill you will feelings of rage and give you an unsettled stomach.
Audra is traveling cross country to San Diego with her two children. Fleeing from a highly emotionally and sometimes physically abusive marriage, Audra wants nothing more than to get her children, Sean and Louise, to a safe place. After stopping to get more water at a gas station outside a tiny town in Arizona, Audra is pulled over by a police officer. Within minutes, she is wrongly being arrested for possession of marijuana planted in her car, and her children are whisked away by another officer to a “safe place.” After arriving at the jail, Audra begs to know where her children have been taken. The officer responds simply with “what children?” Audra must convince not only the FBI agent brought in to investigate the case, but also the media judging her every move, that she is innocent and they must keep looking for her children who are in danger. With the help of Danny, a man who has gone through a similar scenario, the two will need to clear Audra’s name, find the children, and break up a child trafficking ring located somewhere between there and California.
I will admit that within fifteen minutes of starting Here and Gone, I almost gave up in a pile of frustrated mom tears. The thought of losing a child and having everyone believe you are up to no good is overwhelming. Instead of giving up, I powered through and am glad I did. Beck tells Audra’s compelling backstory, while interweaving a complex thriller that left me turning page after page until there was nothing left. While there are parts of the book that feel rushed, these often end up being the sections that give readers a moment to breathe.
Here and Gone is a powerful thriller, but it will tear you up inside as a reader while you desperately search for Louise and Sean alongside Audra.
Here and Gone is now available from Crown Publishing.