“Audra began packing the moment she hung up the phone. It started as just enough clothes for her and the kids to last the few days, then she wondered about toys, and if they would want their favorite bedding, so the bags became boxes, and she knew she couldn’t fly, it would have to be the aging station wagon she had bought last year, and then it wasn’t going to be a few days, it was going to be forever.” – Haylen Beck
From the very beginning, I was hooked to Here and Gone. Audra is trying to escape to a new life in California, fleeing her violent, abusive husband. She brings along her two children, Louise and Sean, and is racing down America’s back roads to start over. After nearly falling asleep at the wheel, Audra stops at a middle-of-nowhere Arizona gas station to get some coffee, but has to do with soda. Shortly after pulling out, though, Audra is pulled over by a rogue sheriff who “finds” drugs in her vehicle. Terrified of being accused of possession – or worse – and giving up her secretive past she tries to be compliant. After being locked up in a cell for the night, though, she asks for her children. The sheriff eerily replies, “What children?”
So begins a fast-paced novel following Audra through myriad twists and turns as she tries to escape her past and those who seem to be stopping her at every turn. I can honestly say that this book is the ultimate vacation read – it is hard to put down, has believable characters (in spite of a crazy plot), and left me guessing constantly. Here and Gone deserves a fair warning, though – it will keep you up late into the night.