Why 'When The Lights Go Out' by Mary Kubica Is The Psychological Suspense Novel You'll Be Talking About This Fall

Since she burst onto the literary scene in 2014 with The Good Girl, Mary Kubica has become an author we can count on to bring the suspense with every subsequent book she releases. And her latest novel, When The Lights Go Out (on sale Sept. 4), is no exception: You’ll be turning pages so quickly they might actually tear.

The book centers on a girl named Jessie Sloane, who is finally, slowly, trying to start her life again after spending years taking care of her cancer-stricken mother. She signs a lease on an apartment and applies to college, but is shocked to learn that there’s a major issue with her social security number — it’s registered to a dead child with her same name. This discovery shocks Jessie to her core, raising some life-altering questions, and making her wonder if everything she’s known is a lie.

As Jessie attempts to get to the bottom of things, she also finds herself unable to sleep—and after days and nights without rest, her mind starts to play tricks on her. Soon, she can no longer trust herself to determine what’s real and what’s just a figment of her imagination. While Jessie’s story unravels, we also hear that of another woman in a different town — Eden — though hers takes place twenty years earlier. Could Jessie’s entire life have been defined by this woman’s quick decision?

You’ll be asking yourself these questions, and putting this book into the hands of everyone you know. Read on to find out why When The Lights Go Out is the psychological suspense novel you and your friends will devour — and be dying to talk about — this fall.

1. It features a twisting, complex mystery

Though Jessie hopes the social security issue is just a mix-up, she quickly finds it’s not an easy fix. She doesn’t have a birth certificate or driver’s license to corroborate the number, and there’s no parent she could ask for clarification — her mother is dead, and she’s never known a father. More mysterious, still, is her mother’s parting advice to "find" herself…

2. There's moving commentary on grief

Jessie struggles with guilt over details of her mother’s death that haunt her, all while she grieves for the only parent she’s ever known, and is beginning to question the life her mother provided for her.

3. A unique heroine with a fascinating problem

Jessie’s struggle with insomnia raises the stakes even higher as she mishears conversations and hallucinates things like skittering insects. How many days can she possibly go without sleep? Will her body—or even her mind—give out before she can solve the mystery of her life?

4. There are TWO potentially unreliable narrators

When The Lights Go Out tells two women’s stories in alternating chapters, and while Jessie’s insomnia calls her sanity into question, Eden, in 1996, has her own reasons for growing desperate, isolated, and increasingly unstable.

5. It's also an emotional domestic drama

As Eden’s story unspools, we learn about her struggles to get pregnant — and the increasingly desperate, and increasingly expensive, methods she and her beloved husband Aaron try in order to conceive. How far will Eden go to get what she needs?

6. Mary Kubica has a proven track record for thrills

Kubica’s novels have thrilled critics and readers (like us!) alike — and all of her books have been best-sellers. Even though we might not be able to trust her characters, we can always trust Kubica to keep us on the edge of our seats.

7. It has a killer trailer

BookClubbish on YouTube

Watch for yourself!

This article is sponsored by Park Row Books.