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Book Review

This supernatural realism book by Lisa McMann is the third in the " Wake" trilogy and is published by Simon Pulse, a division of Simon and Schuster.

Gone is written for ages 14 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Eighteen–year-old Janie Hannagan needs a break from the pressure of her newfound celebrity status as the girl who helped break up a sex ring at her high school. Her boyfriend, Cabel, whisks her away to a lakeside cabin his brother and sister-in-law have rented so she can find peace. Although the vacation takes her away from the prying eyes of the town, she can't escape the effects of being a dream catcher — a person who slips into other people's dreams. She's learned how to manipulate the outcome of some dreams and pull herself out of others, but she can't fight the toll this ability takes on her body. Miss Stubin, a deceased dream catcher, left a notebook explaining that Janie will eventually be blinded and crippled because she goes in and out of other people's dreams. The knowledge plagues not only Janie's thoughts, but also Cabel's dreams.

Two days after arriving at the cabin, Janie checks her cell phone and finds several messages from her best friend, Carrie. They are frantic and somewhat incoherent — something about Janie's mom wandering around the front yard, drunk, looking for Janie. Another says that Carrie took Janie's mom to the hospital. Janie can't reach Carrie, so Cabel immediately takes Janie home.

They find Carrie in the ICU waiting room. It turns out that Janie's mother is fine, but the father Janie never knew, is dying. Although conscious when he first came to the hospital, Henry Feingold is now comatose and unresponsive. When Janie finally goes into his room, she is assaulted by his dream. It is loud and filled with static. Colors fly around her. With great effort, she pulls herself from the dream and allows Cabel to comfort her until her body can function again.

During the following week, Janie struggles with all the changes and decisions she must make. Besides dealing with her dying father and alcoholic mother, she must decide if she's going to try and live as normal a life as possible until her body is crippled or separate herself from everyone, including Cabel, so she no longer slips into peoples' dreams.

Curious about her newfound father, Janie finds Henry's house and searches for clues about his identity. Henry kept himself isolated. Despite having attended college, he didn't work outside the home but made a living buying and selling things on the Internet. His only friend was the UPS driver who delivered and picked up his packages. He also has notes around the house and on his computer about "Morton's Fork," a term which denotes a dilemma in which there is no good outcome. Janie visits her father several more times at the hospital and slips back into his dream, although it takes a great physical and mental toll on her. She eventually discovers he is also a dream catcher. He is in great pain, even in his dreams, and it is only when Miss Stubin is called back from death to help that Henry is able to converse with Janie. For the most part, all he can do is scream for help and beg Janie to kill him. He eventually explains how he fell in love with Janie's mother but chose to leave her when the agony of slipping into her dreams and trying to keep it secret became too much.

Finally, one night, Henry enters one of Janie's dreams and aids her in changing the outcome. After that, his physical body seems more at peace. In one last dream, Janie finds a goodbye note from Miss Stubin in which she says Henry wants her to consider "Morton's Fork." The following day her father dies.

Janie wrestles with what she believes "Morton's Fork" means. She thinks the choice is whether to continue to live in society but become a blind cripple in her 20s or isolate herself as her father did. Henry lived to his late 30s and never lost his sight or the use of his hands. Although it pains her to think of living without Cabel, Janie decides to move into Henry's home, take over his Internet store and live in isolation.

The first night in his home she has a dream about her father and realizes that her decision to live alone will not be without pain. She figures out that if she doesn't use her ability, she will wind up like her father did — living a life of migraines where his brain eventually malfunctioned and killed him. She gathers her belongings and heads back home. She calls her boss, Captain Komisky, and tells her she wants to remain on the police force. Janie also confesses the truth of her situation to Cabel. They agree to take their relationship one day at a time. That evening, Janie attends her first Al-anon meeting and finds comfort in knowing there are others like her, people trying to live with an alcoholic without letting it destroy their futures. When she gets home, Janie decides there's one thing she can do for her mother. She opens the door to her mother's room and slips into her mother's reoccurring dream of Henry, hoping this time to help her mother cope with her loss and move on with her life.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Janie screams her frustration to the sky at having to tell Cabel she's choosing isolation rather than a crippling life with him. She asks why she has to choose. It never says she is calling out to God, but she makes the comment that nobody hears her.

Although dead, Miss Stubin is able to appear in Henry's dreams. She tells Janie that she's been called to help take him home, but it is never explained where that is. Henry is given a Jewish burial. A rabbi explains that several men sat with the body the night before the funeral. The first line of Psalm 23 is quoted, and we are told those at the graveside read it aloud from a card. The rabbi says a prayer over the casket. Captain Komisky asks Janie if she'll be sitting Shiva, but Janie doesn't know what that is.

When Janie's mom comments that no one sent flowers to the grave, Cabel explains that Jews don't honor the dead by killing living things. A Jewish policeman brings a basket of fruit and a cake that he hopes will sweeten Janie's grief.

Authority Roles

When Cabel snuggles up to Janie on the couch, she reminds him of his brother's unspecified rules. Cabel replies that he's on top of the blanket while she is underneath so there won't be a problem. Captain Komisky is portrayed as a caring individual dedicated to helping Janie anyway she can. Janie's mother is an alcoholic who only seems to care about her next drink. Her dreams express her unhappiness at being a single mother.


Janie and others use the f-word, a-- (with variations bada-- and dumba--), d--n, d--nit, s---, b--tard and h---. God's name is used with oh, my, dear, almighty and oh my. Jesus' name is also used as an exclamation. Other negative words used are jeez, freaking, suck, crap and heck.

The violence in the story is presented in a surreal manner because it occurs in people's dreams. Cabel has a nightmare in which he shoots Janie in the eyes with a paintball gun. Red paint drips from her hollow eye sockets. Then he shoots off her limbs. Later he dreams Janie's eyes are sewn shut with black thread. He tries to push marbles into the sockets. Henry's dreams are filled with static and colors so bright they cause Janie pain.

When she passes out from exhaustion, while in his mind, she dreams that Henry tries to strangle her. Before he can kill her, his face explodes, as if it were made of glass. Janie sees her own tormented face in the shards. In her last dream about Henry, she sees him being tormented by hornets flying around his head. In his effort to stop them from stinging him, he slips over the side of a waterfall to his death.


Janie briefly describes having to face down the teachers who tried to rape her (in the previous book). Kids in school ask for more details about the sex party, but Janie keeps quiet.

When she and Cabel are on the couch together, Cabel caresses Janie, but she stops him from putting his hand down her pajama bottoms. When Janie asks Cabel if he thinks about her being blind and crippled, he jokes that he's sure blind people have fantastic sex. They share several passionate kisses. Cabel helps Janie out her clothes and makes her take a shower after she's walked several miles in the heat. He decides to strip down and join her, but nothing else is described. Later Janie jokingly asks him if he's named his penis as Carrie's boyfriend has. They both use the term "raincoat" as a code for using a condom.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

14 and up


Lisa McMann






Record Label



Simon Pulse, a division of Simon and Schuster


On Video

Year Published




We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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