While I Was Gone is about a woman named Joey. She’s in her early fifties with three grown children and a great husband. When an old roommate from college reappears, it gets her all rattled and distracted because, when they lived together in the 1960’s (with a bunch of other hippies), some horrible thing happened. Joey doesn’t feel like she has resolution on this horrible happening and thinks that the reappearance of Eli might be the answer. She makes a bunch of shitty decisions as a result of her semi-obsession with Eli's reappearance and eventually, things get creeeeepy.
Sue’s writing is very sophisticated, but I couldn’t help but think that I would have enjoyed the book more if I was my Mom. Or at least over the age of 50. The story is obviously well crafted, but I had a hard time getting past the fact that I didn’t really like the narrator. I didn’t hate Joey, but she wasn’t particularly likable either. The relationships are realistically complex and the descriptions of her marriage were really painful and yet beautifully truthful. I just had a hard time really investing in her as a character. I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who may have read Sue Miller – does she have any other books you’d recommend above While I Was Gone? And also? Why is it called While I Was Gone? I never really figured that out, which bugged. Part of my lack of enthusiasm about this book may be a result of my recent affliction with Reading ADD, but I’m not sure. Or maybe it was because it had an Oprah's book club sticker on it.