Rating: 4 / 5
One weekend morning, Dani wakes up on her houseboat and her husband, Ian, isn’t there. There is nothing surprising about this, after all, he could have grabbed coffee at the local cafe or went to run a quick errand. By nighttime, however, he hasn’t returned, and Dani has no idea where he could have gone. The previous night they attended Ian’s company party, a swanky affair, where Dani had one drink too many and had taken medication beforehand. As a result, she has no recollection of the night’s events, especially how they got home. While trying to figure out where her husband is, Dani is forced to recollect both the good and bad aspects of her marriage to Ian, as well as her previous marriage to Mark.
One of the best things about He’s Gone is the fact that Caletti hits a home run with portraying blended families and the complexities on which such relationships run. My parents are (thankfully) still together, and growing up, I didn’t have any friends in a single-parent home, so my knowledge of blended families is lacking, and comprises entirely of what I’v read in books, seen on tv, or watched at the theater. Caletti opened my eyes to how difficult and precarious second marriages are, from the bitter custody battles to getting the children acquainted to the new living conditions, and everything else in between. One part of He’s Gone that made me pause and re-think the situation was when Ian was telling Dani how he gave up his place at his daughter’s high school graduation, as well as birthday parties, to be married to her. The family he worked hard to help build no longer exists, and its individual members (his daughters) are quickly moving on without him.
I also liked the way He’s Gone unfolded. Although Dani reminded me somewhat of Amy from Gone Girl, overall He’s Gone delved deeper in into the intricacies of relationships, and how well you really know someone you’ve married and vowed to spend the rest of your life with. Dani selectively parses out vignettes of her life, and so the reader will question her reliability. Throughout the book, I alternated between sympathizing with her situation and wondering if she had a role in her husband’s disappearance. Wondering what happened to Ian kept me turning the pages, but when I was done, the lasting impression of this book is the compelling and honest look at marriage.