I love a good mystery/suspense novel - one that takes you on an adventure!
Today I've got a book to share with you that will definitely do that - Where She Went by Kelly Simmons.
Check out my review below and then hear from Kelly!
Kelly sent me an ARC of the book so I could work with her on a custom candle for her events. We ended up with a gorgeously scented candle - it smells like a delicious sugar scrub with a surprise citrus scent. We called it Sugarbaby because of a group of characters in the book.
Here's my take on Where She Went:
What I loved: Although the topics are delved into deeply so that the story can flow, I appreciated the author's ability to address some serious themes - many of them dealing with the challenges that women face in the world. She brings them to light and reminds us that we can't take anything for granted.
What I liked: Hearing both sides of the story through each woman. The mother's perspective is raw. The daughter's perspective is realistically naive. Both women have to overcome obstacles to find what they are looking for and it keeps the reader engaged throughout the book.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a lighter mystery/suspense novel. The relationships are front and center, with the mystery as the driving force. As you'll see in our interview below, this book is an "emotional page-turner".
Now let's meet Kelly!
Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for taking time to chat with us today!
Congratulations on the release of your fifth novel! Before we jump into questions about Where She Went, I wanted to ask you about your journey to becoming an author – how did you get to where you are today?
I had what I like to call a writer’s childhood. A bunch of trauma coupled with free range parenting – lots of time to explore, daydream, pretend, read and make mistakes! From then on – I studied journalism, worked in advertising, and eventually found my way to studying fiction in night classes at universities.
With five books published, it seems you’ve coined a new genre – “emotional page turners” – which I found on your website. Can you share with us how your stories balance between mystery and women’s fiction?
I like that description because it mirrors the experience – you’re turning the pages and feeling the feels! With suspenseful women’s fiction like mine – it’s about caring and worrying for the characters as well as barreling toward the resolution. In my novels, the mystery is part of a larger story; the mystery is not THE story, if that makes sense.
Now let’s talk about Where She Went! The premise of this story is that a widowed mother sends her daughter off to college, the daughter goes missing and the story is told from both women’s perspective. Each is caught up searching for something! How did this story evolve for you?
Well, I have three daughters and they were all in college at the same time! So I certainly understood the world and the worry. But the story is really about women helping other women, and women betraying other women. That’s the part that fascinated me.
You address quite a few big themes in your book – bullying, sex trafficking, college cover-ups. Was there an aspect of the story that surprised you (either when researching or when it organically became part of the story) as you wrote?
There are a couple of characters who surprised me along the way. People and scenes I thought were going to be darker and turned out to be lighter. Once I delved more deeply into the world of sex work, I gained more empathy and understanding – more than some of the characters, to be honest.
I noticed on your website that you have a free Book Club kit for groups who want to read Where She Went – what a great idea! Can you tell us a little about the kit and why you are offering it? Are you available to meet with book clubs as well?
Yes, I enjoy discussing books with people who are drinking! Hahaha. The book club kit has a signature cocktail, some drinking games, Q&A and exclusive essays and content. Fun!
Before we wrap up, tell us what’s next for you. Do you have any upcoming events? Are you working on another book?
This week, I’m heading to Chicago for an event at Lake Forest Bookshop on October 22 , then I have one in Phoenixville, PA on October 30, at Reads & Company. Then it’s book club season . . .
Thank you so much for telling us about your journey and talking about Where She Went with us!