Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Bestselling author Gretchen Waters has certainly led an interesting life, one filled with personal tragedy, unresolved paternity, and a tragic death. Unfortunately for Gretchen, she ends up dead as well. Though at first no one suspects foul play, Gretchen’s college best friend stumbles upon a mystery once she begins to read through her friend’s unfinished manuscript.

Seven months pregnant and named the literary executor of Gretchen’s partially written follow up to her honky-tonk memoir, Jamie combs through every bit of writing that Gretchen has left behind. Curious to learn what really happened to her dear friend, Jamie interviews people from Gretchen’s past, focusing on people who knew Gretchen’s birth mother, Shelly. Like Gretchen, Shelly also died under mysterious circumstances. Could their deaths possibly be related, and is Jamie jeopardizing her own life by asking too many questions?

Miss Me When I’m Gone by Emily Arsenault is an engrossing exploration of the connections between mother and child and longtime friends. Gretchen’s bestselling novel, Tammyland, is one-half biography of classical country music star Tammy Wynette and one-half personal memoir about Gretchen’s birth mother, who had many similarities to Tammy. Though I am not much of a country music fan, I became just as interested in Tammy’s life as I did Gretchen’s. Gretchen felt a connection to Tammy most likely because of Tammy’s ups and downs in life, even though Gretchen didn’t always agree with the messages in Tammy’s music. Gretchen and Jamie’s friendship was inspiring because the women were in such very different places in their lives, but still maintained a bond after so many years.

Arsenault kept me guessing right up to the last few chapters. There was no doubt in my mind that Gretchen’s death was not an accident, but I had no idea who was responsible for it. I do wish that there had been a bit more suspense, however; I never really felt that Jamie was in very much danger, even though a few concerning incidents occurred. I enjoyed Miss Me When I’m Gone and would not hesitate to give Arsenault’s previous books a try.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.