Review: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

Title: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged 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 causes her to doubt 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 grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are 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. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?


When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica is an engrossing and suspenseful mystery that also explores obsession and the effects of grief.

Jessie Sloane is bereft when her beloved mother and only relative passes away after years of battling cancer. Attempting to honor her mother’s last wishes, Jessie enrolls in college only to discover her social security number is flagged for a shocking reason that leaves her questioning everything she thinks she knows about herself and her mom. Suffering from debilitating insomnia, Jessie begins seeing and hearing things that threaten her sanity.  She eventually becomes obsessed with finding her father but does the hidden picture Jessie discovers hold the key to uncovering the truth?

Interspersed with events playing out in the present are diary entries from a woman named Eden.  When Eden first begins her journal, she and her husband Aaron are blissfully happy and celebrating their recent move into a lakeside cottage. The couple decide it is time to become parents, but as the months pass without conceiving, Jessie becomes more and more obsessed with motherhood.  With her marriage teetering on the brink, exactly how far is Jessie willing to go to become a mother?

When the Lights Go Out is a riveting mystery that will keep readers guessing what is going to happen next. Jessie’s plight is easy to empathize with but her behavior and decisions become increasingly bizarre.  Eden’s desperate attempts to become pregnant are understandable but she eventually becomes quite irrational the more desperate she becomes. Mary Kubica brings the novel to an unexpected conclusion with a major plot twist that is impossible to predict.  Although the ending is bit of letdown, I truly enjoyed this suspense-filled and entertaining read.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mary Kubica, Mystery, Park Row Books, Rated B, Suspense, When the Lights Go Out

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