Review: The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz


Title: The Gone Dead
Author: Chanelle Benz
Published: March 2020, Ecco Books
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

An electrifying
first novel from “a riveting new voice in American fiction” (George
Saunders): A young woman returns to her childhood home in the American
South and uncovers secrets about her father’s life and death

James’ inheritance isn’t much: a little money and a shack in the
Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned
black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though
Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that
day—and she hasn’t been back to the South since.

Thirty years
later, Billie returns but her father’s home is unnervingly secluded: her
only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been
entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the
locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the
day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this
forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.

Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead
is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays
bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.

My thoughts: Somehow I missed this book when it first came out but I am so glad I was able to get my hands on it now. It may be a short book, but it is one that definitely packs a punch.

I loved this slow-burn read that is part crime-fiction part homecoming story that is told from multiple narrators. This really helps set up the scene, allowing us to get not only a feel for who all the players are, but also get into everyone’s headspace. But, as secrets are slowly revealed, we begin to question who we can really trust, which is always something I love.

Delving into family secrets, race and class, loss and love, it is easy to become totally immersed in this story and I loved that I really did not want to rush through this book – this is one that I wanted to take my time with and really experience each and every minute I had with these characters and what was happening. And even though the story takes a look at an event that happened thirty years in the past, it could not be a more timely novel.

I highly recommend picking this one up and think it would certainly make a great book club pick. There is so much to unpack in this little book. I know I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what this talented author writes next as this one is I won’t be forgetting any time soon!


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