cover image When the Lights Go Out

When the Lights Go Out

Mary Kubica. Park Row, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7783-3078-3

Jessie Sloane, the chief narrator of this lackluster psychological thriller from bestseller Kubica (Every Last Lie), spends her teen years caring for her mother, Eden, until Eden dies from cancer at their home in Chicago. Numb with grief, insomniac Jessie tries to get on with her life by applying to a community college, but a college official informs her that her Social Security number belongs to a girl who died 17 years earlier. Jessie never knew who her father was, nor does she have a birth certificate or a driver’s license, so trying to find her identity seems insurmountable. As Jessie’s insomnia worsens, she makes one bad decision after another. Flashbacks from Eden’s viewpoint show that she and her husband, Aaron, were loving newlyweds, but their marriage soured when Eden became consumed with having a baby. Jessie’s inability to tell reality from illusion quickly becomes tiresome, as does Eden and Aaron’s story. Eden’s account plods to a disappointing finale. Kubica fans will hope for a return to form next time. Agent: Rachael Dillon Fried, Greenburger Assoc. (Sept.)