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Wish You Were Gone


Wish You Were Gone

In WISH YOU WERE GONE, Kieran Scott forces us to confront a marriage that has shattered into so many pieces that it would take a magician to put them back together. In fact, as we eventually learn, Emma Walsh had planned to meet with her husband, James, on the evening before his fatal accident to talk about their marriage, but he never showed up.

The Walshes seem to be the perfect family. They have a huge house, expensive cars, a son who excels in sports, a daughter who loves theater, and a wife who does nothing but keep their home lovely and her husband's suits cleaned. However, appearances can be deceiving. And in the case of the Walshes, appearances are downright lies. They are a family in crisis, and James’ death unleashes all kinds of hell that Emma and her two children, Kelsey and Hunter, must reckon with.

"There is much to digest after all the secrets are revealed, and WISH YOU WERE GONE raises issues that beg to be discussed and pondered."

The novel is told from several points of view. Among them are Emma and Kelsey, along with Emma's two best friends, Gray and Lizzie. We also hear a bit from Darnell, Gray's husband and James' business partner and best friend. Together, the two men ran a public relations firm, representing top professional athletes and other A-list people. Gray is a successful attorney, while Lizzie struggles to make ends meet with her gift shop and decorating. She is a single mom, and we don't know who her daughter Willow's father is. We also get to know Emma's and Lizzie's children. Hunter and Willow are the same age and very close. Lately, Kelsey and Willow have gotten closer, but there is a darkness in Willow that is quickly revealed.

By the time Emma and Hunter discover James after his car crashes through the wall of their garage, he is dead. While it looks like he was drunk and unable to stop the vehicle, something about the scene bothers Emma. She thinks about investigating James and his actions prior to the crash as she begins to suspect that he was having an affair. But the truth is much more complex. We come to see how completely despicable James really was and how many people would have loved to see him dead.

Was the crash an accident, or did someone engineer his death? Having the narrative shared from multiple points of view, albeit in third person, allows us glimpses into the minds of most of the characters. On some level, though, I wish that we had gotten to know Emma better. That's not to say that the strategy of telling the story from different perspectives doesn't work. It does; I just wanted to understand Emma more deeply.

There are many aspects of the novel that are quite effective. Scott intersperses chapters about the events leading up to the accident that provide us with a growing, suspenseful timeline of what James did that previous day and how he spent his last hours and minutes. There are twists at the end that I did not see coming. I enjoyed the window into seemingly "perfect" neighborhoods, homes and families. Particularly affecting are the heartbreaking ravages that contact sports can wreak on a professional athlete's body. Readers also witness the damage that violence and the threat of violence can do to children of abusers.

There is much to digest after all the secrets are revealed, and WISH YOU WERE GONE raises issues that beg to be discussed and pondered.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on March 4, 2022

Wish You Were Gone
by Kieran Scott