spinning through music city

Emily Firestone is in a good place in her life, and I don’t just mean her apartment in Nashville. After years of struggling with a very difficult bipolar disorder, she finally has her spinning mind under control. She has a job she loves—working with children as a psychologist—and a good relationship with biochemist Paolo, when he’s not deep in the research lab. So when he suggests an overnight trip on a boat, she agrees, even though she can’t swim.

The boat trip starts out beautifully. The lake outside of Nashville is beautiful, and the boat calmly slices through the water. Emily’s anxiety is up, because of the water, so she takes a pill and opens some wine. But soon she is relaxed and enjoying herself, laughing with Paolo as he swims with the fish and plays with his camera, his favorite hobby.

But when Emily wakes up the next morning, Paolo is no longer on the boat. She calls for him and waits, searching the water, but she can’t find him anywhere. Finally, she has to do something, so she manages to get the boat back to the dock and have someone call the police.

As the investigation goes on, and Emily is looked at closely as a potential killer, she loses her composure more and more. Her mania rises back to the surface, and her mind spins out of control as she tries to figure out if Paolo was murdered, and by whom. It will take her all of her resources to figure out what’s going on and to get herself out of danger, but with her mental illness, does she have what it takes to solve the puzzle in time?

Author and psychologist R. J. Jacobs has crafted a clever thriller with one of the best treats, an unreliable narrator. Emily, with her anxiety and bipolar disorder, her looseness with her pills and lack of sleep, takes us on a twisty tour of the darkest parts of her mind as she struggles with the disappearance of her boyfriend and the resulting investigation. And Then You Were Gone is a solid story about a young woman on the edge, and getting a glimpse into the mind of a bipolar woman spinning out of control is enlightening.

Galleys for And Then You Were Gone were provided by Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.