When the Lights Go Out
By: Mary Kubica
Publication Date: 09/04/18
My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC) Q&A with the Author
Top Books of 2018 A woman is plunged into a bizarre case of stolen identity in this ambitious and riveting thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that forces her to question everything she’s ever known. Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined. Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Is Jessie really who she thinks she is? Has her whole life been a lie? The truth will shock her to her core…if she lives long enough to discover it.
Behind the Book and the Author
An avid fan, from her smashing debut, THE GOOD GIRL (acquired for film), PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE to her latest, psychological thriller—–WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, everything this bestselling author (a favorite), Mary Kubica writes is solid gold.
WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT is yet another superb addition to her "collection of girls". (cover crush). As I have mentioned previously, she deserves her own Chicago billboard. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.
In her fifth novel, a woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged psychological suspense thriller Totally unpredictable and thought-provoking. THAT ENDING! Talking about "the twist!" Cleverly crafted, an ending you do not see coming.
A slow-burning twisty psychological suspense. A heart-pounding, a tale of one woman's desperate search for answers. From an array of emotions —grief, disbelief, anger, fear, and confusion.
Set in Chicago, WTLGO is written from two women’s perspectives (mother and daughter) as well as dual timelines and locations. I enjoy this style, allowing the reader to experience the character’s emotions first-hand. The author really gets into their heads.
From the past: Eden is a young wife obsessed with having a baby. They are in love. She is desperate. She has hidden secrets. She wants those secrets to remain buried. Time is running out.
Jessie is her grown daughter in a desperate search of her true identity. She is sitting with her mom in a hospital room. Her mom Eden is dying of terminal cancer. Her mom sleeps next to her in a drug-induced daze that keeps her both pain-free and fast asleep.
Jessie suffers from severe insomnia. What she would give to sleep like her mom. With the lack of sleep, brings emotional instability. Crying and laughing for no reason. Behaving erratically. Losing concept of time. Seeing things. Hallucinating.
She is unable to take sleeping pills, and she does not want to miss a thing. Her mom is so close to the end. There are still unanswered questions. She is running out of time.
It has always been just she and her mother. They are close. There are things Jessie wants to know. Who is her father? Her mom never wanted to discuss.
The author takes us back to 1996 where we meet Eden and Aaron. Egg Harbor, WI. (a beautiful idyllic area). A young couple deeply in love. They purchased a lovely cottage overlooking the bay. Their dreams. A garden, and high hopes for a family.
Aaron wants a family, and at 28 and 29, they decide they are ready. However, soon their dreams turn into a nightmare. Miscarriages. Invitro. Their relationship is strained. Draining their finances for a chance at having a baby. Aaron is busy working at a restaurant, and he wants Eden to stay home (since she soon would be pregnant). They soon grow apart.
However, staying at home brings more time for Eden to dwell on her situation and obsess. She stalks other mothers and daughters. If only she could be a mother. Plus her neighbor (Miranda and Jack) have kids, and she is pregnant again. She does not even want to be a mother.
How could fate be so cruel? Soon her own marriage is destroyed due to the obsession to conceive. She thinks of kidnapping a child. She is selfish. Aaron thinks they should stop the madness.
Now at the end of her life, she only has a daughter. A secret life. A mysterious photo and journal. A lone wolf. She was diagnosed with cancer when Jessie was fifteen. Jessie has taken care of her.
Jessie's mom always wanted her to find herself. However, what did this mean?
Soon she discovers she may not be the person she thought she was. When she goes to apply for a community college, her social security number belongs to a person who is deceased.
From past to present, now her mom is gone, and she is left with insomnia and unanswered questions. She is losing her mind.
Determined to find her true identity. Surely there are clues somewhere. Eleven days with hardly any sleep, she feels like she may go mad. What is her mom hiding and who is the mysterious man in the photo?
INTENSE! A page-turner you cannot put down until you learn the mystery behind Jessie and Eden. (I loved Aaron and Jessie).
Jessie is experiencing acute, chronic insomnia. I really enjoyed this topic and her character, especially the mystery behind her mother’s past and how this impacted her daughter Jessie. I was drawn to her storyline for many personal reasons and recently tore through my mom’s house prior after her death (cancer) — searching for clues about her secrets and my own identity. Plus. I have experienced insomnia my entire life. It is horrible.
Kubica explores many highly-charged female themes. From marriage, motherhood, in vitro, stolen identity, abduction, obsession, grief, cancer, death, insomnia, financial, moral ambiguity, and of course dark secrets of the past.
Throughout all her books, the author is in tune with these powerful and provocative issues of women, and the human mind. Attracting women of all ages to the ever-growing intriguing domestic suspense genre.
Each of her books is unique. The characters have an urgent need to belong —allowing society to dictate their version of happiness. All her books are plot-driven as well as character-driven, and WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT is another perfect example. As well as addictively suspenseful and tautly written.
Among her signature qualities, is the uncanny ability to write "hypnotic" about women placed in stressful situations and their intensely inner turmoil.
When reviewing my favorite books over the years, Mary Kubica and Karin Slaughter are the only two authors landing on my Top Books of the year for five consecutive years! (started my blog in 2014). Check out my List: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 (coming soon).
I loved WTLGO on so many levels! From my personal experience with cottage living, a carriage house, mom with cancer, grief, intense insomnia, and the desperate search for answers of my own identity.
I realize the ending is quite controversial; however, in this genre, it would be quite boring if everything was tied up in a neat bow. I liked it! Highly Recommend. I would have to agree with Kirkus Reviews. “Kubica is a helluva storyteller."
A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. Also pre-ordered the hardcover and audiobook.
Thank you, Mary, for a great interview!
"Kubica is a helluva storyteller."
"This intensely moving novel about identity and deceit is strongly recommended." —Booklist
"Mary Kubica takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride sharing how the human mind deals with insomnia and how it distorts one's thinking. Jessie’s first-person voice is so powerful it is like being on this chilling journey with her as she delves into finding the truth… This masterful and provocative novel is a page-turner leading to an unexpected and surprising conclusion." —NY Journal of Books
"Kubica brilliantly unravels the lives of two women in this tense and haunting tale of identity and deceit. WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT will keep you questioning everything-and everyone-until the riveting conclusion. A twisty, captivating, edge-of-your-seat read."
—Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of ALL THE MISSING GIRLS
"Creepy and oh so clever with a brilliant twist that I did not see coming! —Alice Feeney, New York Times bestselling author of SOMETIMES I LIE
About the Author
Photo by Sarah Jastre
Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of four novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY and EVERY LAST LIE. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, where she enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter. Her first novel THE GOOD GIRL was an Indie Next pick in August of 2014, received a Strand Critics Nomination for Best First Novel and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in Debut Goodreads Author and in Mystery & Thriller for 2014. Mary’s novels have been translated into over twenty languages and have sold over a million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune) and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).
When the Lights Go Out to be released Sept 4, 2018. Available for pre-order now. She is currently working on her next novel. Read More