(I was provided with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
If You're Gone could have been typical. It could have gone the way so many romantic suspense thrillers go. When I started reading, I fully expected it to.
If You're Gone is not typical.
It's a character study, a in-depth look at one teenage girl, Lillian, dealing with loss. Losses, really -- there's the obvious loss of a boyfriend who disappears under mysterious circumstances, and there's the less-obvious loss of Lillian's own expectations for how her life should unfold. More even than the plot, which moves along at a solid clip and never bogs itself down with unnecessary diversions, the development of this character is what sells the book for me. Lillian is a real person. She's not a collection of contrivances designed to drive a plot to its conclusion.
The end of Lillian's story, without spoiling anything, is emotionally powerful and ultimately realistic. (There is an additional, deleted scene-style chapter available online that can serve as an epilogue -- I much prefer the ending that made its way into the book proper, but your mileage may vary.)
I'm looking forward to what Goodwin comes up with next. This is a promising start to a literary career.