“Don’t even think of leaving… I will find you,” he whispered. “Guaranteed.”
Sara and her mom have a plan to finally escape Sara’s abusive father. But when her mom doesn’t show up as expected, Sara’s terrified. Her father says that she’s on a business trip, but Sara knows he’s lying. Her mom is missing—and her dad had something to do with it.
With each day that passes, Sara’s more on edge. Her friends know that something’s wrong, but she won’t endanger anyone else with her secret. And with her dad growing increasingly violent, Sara must figure out what happened to her mom before it’s too late…for them both.
Tracy Bilen has redefined the parameters of tension. The suspenseful plot in her debut young adult novel, What She Left Behind, fills readers with dread and longing for some sort of happy ending. The pages are filled with secrets, doubts, and tough decisions.
Sara’s family life was already balancing on the precipice of destruction, but tragedy pushed it over the edge. With a plan to leave her abusive father behind, she and her mother devise a plan to escape. Now hanging on the sliver of hope that her mother hasn’t left her to fend for herself, Sara is searching for clues and answers.
What She Left Behind tackles serious themes, sometimes subtly and sometimes not. Sara is witness to the daily abuse her father dishes in her family. Before, she was safe, but with her mother’s disappearance Sara’s father is more unpredictable. Bilen allows Sara to tell the story at her own pace. Allowing her to face facts when she’s ready gives readers the time to understand Sara and her motives. As the story has frequent flashbacks, to a time when Sara’s life was relatively safer, readers are able to see past the façade Sara wears. Her grief becomes so apparent that it will be hard for readers not to jump between the pages to comfort her.
Tracy Bilen has captured her audience’s attention with a compelling and determined lead. A serious read with a light-hearted romance makes What She Left Behind an appealing young adult debut.