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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Gone Tonight

Narrator: Kate Mara

Macmillan Audio

ISBN: 978-1250283979

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Publication Date: 08/01/2023

Format: e-book & audio

My Rating: 5 Stars ++ (ARC)

Catherine Sterling thinks she knows her mother. Ruth Sterling is quiet, hardworking, and lives for her daughter. All her life, it's been just the two of them against the world. But now, Catherine is ready to spread her wings, move from home, and begin a new career. And Ruth Sterling will do anything to prevent that from happening.

Ruth Sterling thinks she knows her daughter. Catherine would never rebel, would never question anything about her mother's past or background. But when Ruth's desperate quest to keep her daughter by her side begins to reveal cracks in Ruth's carefully-constructed world, both mother and daughter begin a dance of deception.

No one can know Ruth's history. There is a reason why Ruth kept them moving every few years, and why she was ready--in a moment's notice--to be gone in the night.

But danger is closing in. Is it coming from the outside, from Ruth's past? Is Ruth reaching a breaking point? Or is the danger coming from the darkness that may live in Catherine, herself?

Propulsive, brilliant, layered, and provocative, GONE TONIGHT is a thriller that showcases Sarah Pekkanen at the top of her game.

My Review

Master storyteller Sarah Pekkanen (fav author) returns following The Ever After 2018 (solo) and The Golden Couple 2022 (co-author) with her BEST yet! GONE TONIGHT —a twisty, emotionally captivating suspense thriller—a powerful mother-daughter relationship, both poignant and terrifying of dark, buried secrets and a dangerous past that will have you glued to the pages until the satisfying conclusion.

I LOVED THIS BOOK! My top thrillers of 2023!

Meet the mother and daughter duo, Ruth and Catherine. They have always been close and never needed a lot of outsiders, happy with their relationship like best friends. Ruth has been on the run for a quarter of a century.

Three names. Twelve different jobs. Nine different apartments. What is she hiding? They moved around often and never stayed anywhere long enough to make real friends or have anyone get too close.

Ruth Sterling (42), mother, a single, quiet, hardworking waitress who would do anything for her daughter. She would give up food for her daughter, which has happened quite often. She sacrifices for her daughter in every way. Ruth has had a rough life. Her mom a drunk, and her father was a handyman. Things were tough in high school. However, she is a fighter. Indestructible.

She was caught up in a dangerous situation in high school, and her ex-boyfriend is currently in prison. She left her parents and brother and has been on the run since. She was pregnant at the time and has been in survivor mode since. She is intelligent, proactive, and always looks over her shoulder. When things get too close, she runs with her daughter.

However, she has kept the reasons behind all this and her past from her daughter. She also maintains a journal collecting thoughts for her daughter—one day, she may not be around to explain. Her daughter thinks her father was a sperm daughter. He was not.

Now things have become more complicated, so Ruth is forced to be creative. She cannot have her daughter move anywhere close to where she plans to go- Baltimore. The only way to stop her is to pretend she has Alzheimer's to keep her close until this problem is resolved.

Catherine Sterling (24), the daughter, will soon be a nurse. She graduated cum laude and is about to start work at John Hopkins and move to Baltimore in two weeks. Her specialty is geriatrics, and she works part-time at a nursing home in the Memory Wing with patients with dementia, Alzheimer's, and TBI. Catherine is worried about her mom and very familiar with the path of destruction regarding Alzheimer's.

However, things are not what they seem, and now Catherine is conducting her secretive sleuthing into her mom's past. She suspects something is off with her mom. The more she digs, she questions if she knows her mom. Is everything about her a lie? Her mother is keeping secrets.

Catherine is also keeping secrets. Little does she know the danger she is putting them both in by digging where she shouldn't. In the meantime, the threat is getting closer, and Ruth must keep her daughter safe from the monster coming for them. REVENGE.

I loved the part where Ruth lived in a Target store while pregnant. Immediately, I thought of the Natalie Portman movie (I saw it years ago: "Where the Heart Is"). A pregnant 17-year-old teen was living in a Walmart after being dumped off by her boyfriend, has her baby, and becomes an overnight celebrity. Immediately upon the comparison, the author comments on the movie.

WHAT A BOOK! First, I have been an enormous fan of Sarah Pekkanen since her first book in 2010 and have read every book since. (see her book list below). She is a superb writer, writing with heart and soul. Her skills shine with her well-developed characters and twisty plots, whether contemporary, domestic, or thriller: my favorite author list.


GONE TONIGHT hooked me from page one to the end. Brilliantly layered, the author's writing is beautiful, the journal entries heartfelt with a mother's genuine love, and the characters highly relatable—you are invested in them, plus heroines you’ll cheer for.

Razor sharp! A riveting cat-and-mouse game that becomes twisty, wild, and more suspenseful throughout the novel. I cannot recommend this one enough. Nature vs. nurture. Get it. You will love it!

AUDIOBOOK: I enjoyed reading and listening. The audiobook was TOPS! Kate Mara gave a first-rate performance for all voices, and I was hanging on her every word. I highly recommend the book & audio.

Thanks to St Martins Press and Macmillan Audio for a gifted ARC and ALC via Netgalley to share my review and thoughts.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars +

Pub Date: Aug 1, 2023

Top Books of 2023


"This riveting, original, and powerful mother-daughter story kept me glued to the pages. I'm a huge fan of Sarah Pekkanen's books, and GONE TONIGHT is her best yet." —Colleen Hoover

"Filled with buried secrets and jaw-dropping deception, Sarah Pekkanen's GONE TONIGHT is a page-turning thriller about a mother-daughter you won't soon forget.. What would make a teenage girl vanish into the night and live a life on the run for two decades? Read Gone Tonight. It's a wild ride."

— Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

“Sarah Pekkanen’s startling, breathtaking tale of a mother and daughter will plunge you into a plot layered by lies and trauma but still infused with love. Through deft writing and thoughtful character development, she’s created a fast-paced thriller in Gone Tonight, daring to ask deep questions about love versus fear, and control versus protection.”

—-Readers Digest

“Gone Tonight is an intense, harrowing story about long-buried secrets and the trauma they inflict. The mother-daughter relationship is both thrilling and heartbreaking, with characters you won’t soon forget. Captivating from beginning to end.”

—Samantha Downing, internationally bestselling author of My Lovely Wife.

"With prose that cuts like knife―full of both emotion and twists―GONE TONIGHT proves why Sarah Pekkanen is one of the finest thriller writers working today. Just when you think Pekkanen couldn't possibly outdo herself, she delivers with what will undoubtedly be crowned one of the year's best novels. Fresh, inventive, and with a gut-punch you won’t see coming, GONE TONIGHT is this decade’s Gone Girl. Believe the hype."

— Alex Finlay, author of The Night Shift

"Catherine Sterling’s personal and professional worlds are beginning to collide: she’s a nurse who cares for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and her mother is starting to show classic symptoms. The two live together, making the forgetfulness hard to miss, with Ruth Sterling looking very confused when recent events are discussed and forgetting words―calling ice cubes “water squares,” for example. Ruth is reluctant to get any scans that could confirm the likely diagnosis―her mother died of Alzheimer’s, she says, and she knows what’s ahead. But then Catherine makes a discovery that causes her to doubt that her mother’s problems are real. As the point of view shifts between the two women, readers get Ruth’s first-person point of view; her odd behavior is hiding an explosive past that Catherine knows nothing about. Readers are in for a wild cat-and-mouse game as this tight duo (boundaries, what are they?) faces terrible odds when Catherine delves into her mother’s past and Ruth hides the pair from an encroaching threat. There are some very sad moments here, related to dire poverty and child sexual abuse. Overall, it’s an eye-opening look at how “our minds…talk us out of things we don’t want to know.”

―First Clue

"Prepare to stay up until the wee hours devouring GONE TONIGHT by Sarah Pekkanen."

—Real Simple

“Your heart will race until the final page.”

—Westport Magazine


"Kate Mara gives a quiet powerhouse of a performance of this taut and original thriller. Catherine Sterling and her mother, Ruth, are unusually close. Keyword "unusually." Note also the title's nod to the iconic twisty thriller GONE GIRL. This book earns the association; the plot takes turn after turn you won't see coming, and its revelations are persuasive and earned. Why do Ruth and Catherine have no family or friends? Why have they moved so often? Is Ruth protecting Catherine, or keeping her prisoner? Is Catherine the innocent she seems? Every time we shift from the private thoughts and memories of one to the other, the picture reveals surprising new size and detail. Skillful plotting is matched by Mara's crisp, well-paced, and beautifully controlled delivery."

—Audiofile Review

About the Author

SARAH PEKKANEN is the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of several novels of suspense including An Anonymous Girl and The Wife Between Us, and the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of over half a dozen solo novels. A former investigative journalist and award-winning feature writer, her work has been published in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She lives just outside of Washington, D.C. with her family.

Gone Tonight 2023

The Ever After 2018

The Perfect Neighbors 2016

Things You Won't Say 2015

Catching Air 2014

The Best of Us 2013

These Girls 2012

Skipping a Beat 2011

The Opposite of Me 2010

Beginning Again 2012

Love, Accidentally 2011

All Is Bright 2010

The Golden Couple 2022

You Are Not Alone 2020

The Getaway 2020 (Audible Originals)

An Anonymous Girl 2019

The Wife Between Us 2018



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