Review: When the Lights Go Out

by Rebecca
Published: Last Updated on

When the Lights Go Out is a captivating suspense novel by Mary Kubica, written from the alternating perspectives of two young women: Jessie, a teenage girl trudging through the pain and sorrow of her mother’s impending last breath, and Eden, a woman desperate for a child but struggling to conceive.

For Jessie Sloane, life has always been about her and her mother. There has been no one else–no true friends, no father, no life outside of the one she has with her mom. So, when her mother is diagnosed with cancer and rapidly begins to deteriorate, her world crumbles in on itself. She no longer sleeps, and can barely bring herself to eat. She has no other friends or family members on whom she can depend; she is forced to navigate the murky waters of life after her mother’s death all on her own. In addition to this suffering, Jessie discovers things about herself that make her question herself and her mother, whom she has trusted implicitly her whole life. Now she is forced to cope with the demise not just of her one and only living family member, but also of the person she grew up thinking she was.

Eden, on the other hand, has a perfect life. The perfect husband, a beautiful home where she and her husband can watch the sailboats pass by under the glow of the setting sun. However, there is just one thing missing–a child. And the more time that passes for Eden without a child, the more desperate for one she becomes. Soon, conceiving a child is her sole purpose–one that could destroy everything she has worked for. One that could send her perfect world spiraling out of control.

When the Lights Go Out is a beautifully-crafted story, both heart-wrenching and suspenseful; moving and tense. The story is fast-paced and exciting, with characters that are extremely honest and express such raw emotion, it’s difficult not to establish a connection with them. It’s impossible not to feel both Jessica and Eden’s pain. To grieve with them, and rejoice with them. Their anguish and desperation in their individual yet inextricably intertwined situations are abundant and powerful.

The results of Jessica’s insomnia, in addition to the secrets she begins to uncover about her own identity or lack thereof, invoke a deep sense of paranoia and foreboding that made me desperate for answers. More and more questions arise with each passing day, sending Jessica spiraling further down into the depths of confusion and despair. Eden’s struggle to make a family and the toll it takes on her relationships is truly painful to read.

When the Lights Go Out is a fascinating read, not only because it is an excellent psychological thriller, but also because it is a uniquely human story about the types of people we become when we are overwhelmed by grief and desperation. Grief can destroy us and turn us into people we can’t begin to recognize, and we ourselves are the only ones capable of determining whether we triumph and overcome that grief, or we let the weight of it crush us completely.



About When the Lights Go Out

Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (September 4, 2018)

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?

“Kubica brilliantly unravels the lives of two women in this tense and haunting tale of identity and deceit. WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT will keep you questioning everything-and everyone-until the riveting conclusion. A twisty, captivating, edge-of-your-seat read.” –Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of ALL THE MISSING GIRLS


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


About Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL and PRETTY BABY.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children and enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter.

Find out more about her and connect with Mary on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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Susie | Novel Visits September 4, 2018 - 8:00 am

I’m always looking for the Mary Kubica book that’s as good as The Good Girl. Is this one it?

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours September 14, 2018 - 9:28 pm

Thanks for being on the tour!

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica - #TLCBookTours Review • Bewitched Bookworms October 3, 2018 - 8:47 pm

[…] Tuesday, September 4th: Literary Quicksand […]


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