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What She Left Behind

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,281 ratings  ·  316 reviews
“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
Paperback, 236 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Simon Pulse
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,281 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Ever read a book and you just don't care what happens, you just want it to be over? This is so NOT one like that. I couldnt get to the end fast enough because I had to know what happened. I was almost late for work when I didn't want to stop reading and I am never late for work!
Sara and her mother live a nightmare life with an abusive father whose abuse escalates after sara's brother Matt kills himself, although her father pretends Matt isn't dead and they have to all play along and have all th
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review is also available on my blog, Qwerty

I don't always read realistic fictions but when I do, I..


Damn ninjas cutting onions! took me a full month before I finally posted a full review. The thought occurred everyday within that one month. I had been thinking, was it laziness? Was it lack of mood?


I simply didn't want to go back there again, among those trees in the cover.

This is why I rarely read realistic fictions or watching documentary about abuse, poverty and such. I hate
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
I don't know what to feel about this book. Some parts completely befuddled me. Like, your dad has been abusing your mom and yourself for so long, and if you can take it into your own hands and plan one of those dramatic escapes which don't work half the time, I'm pretty sure you can call up a lawyer five states away using a less amount of time. Sure, the dad knows all the policemen in town, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world thinks your dad is the good guy. Taping down dinner conversati ...more
McCaid Paul
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
3 Stars
I'm going to go right down the middle with a 3-star rating for this one. This book was good, but had it's flaws.
What She Left Behind was exactly like it's unsettling cover: creepy, dark, and mysterious. It drew me in from the start and kept me flipping the pages.
I chose to ignore the huge flaw peeking beneath the surface for the longest time: that this book was a mystery in disguise.
Maybe I missed something. Maybe this wasn't a mystery book at all, even though the synopsis clearly hin
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Despite flashbacks to better times in Sara’s family, it is impossible to feel any sympathy toward her abusive father. Beatings inflicted on her mother have gone on for years. Sara’s brother chooses suicide over the emotional and physical abuse he endures. Sara herself is not physically harmed, but the strain of living with her super-critical, controlling father anymore is impossible. Her mom makes plans for the two of them to disappear, but then disappears herself. Terrified that something has h ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
☆☆☆☆ 4.5 Come For Me Stars ☆☆☆☆

Whoa, this book was really good. Family riddled with grief and of this storyline I was not expecting and I loved it!!!
Oct 13, 2011 rated it liked it
While reading the book, I really liked What She Left Behind. The mystery aspect is really well done, and I enjoyed trying to figure out what happened alongside Sara. Especially the last 50 pages or so are gripping - the suspense is so high, I couldn't put the book down. If you look at What She Left Behind as a mystery, it's a very good book. It had me terrified, like a good mystery should.

Sara's dad is a total psychopath. The physical abuse he puts his family through is so strong it's scary, but
Kimberly Sabatini
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-ya
If you like Elizabeth Scott, I think you'll absolutely adore Tracy Bilen. WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND is one of those stories that is morbidly beautiful. It is the harsh reality of a less than ideal life, threaded with moments of love and hope. I couldn't pull my eyes away from what was unfolding on the pages. I immediately connected with Sara and adored the healthy relationships in her life. I read this story with a rapid pulse and sweaty palms--praying that the last page would be just as good as the ...more
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. mistakenly read this one. young adult. story pulls you in.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-3
I felt so much of this was realistically portrayed. I felt so much of it was not. I don't like books that mix very serious subject matter with artificial cheesy stuff. Teens need to hear about realistic ways to get out of abusive situations not just wait for the football hero to come to the rescue in a completely unbelievable way. ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I couldn't put the book down. A small insight as to what living in an abusive home may be like. Such tortured feelings a hold must have. ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was terrifying. What She Left Behind takes place in a family with a very abusive father, which is an important subject matter that is not dealt with often in YA literature. I was physically cringing at some of the scenes and descriptions. This is one of those books like Thirteen Reasons Why or Want to Go Private? where one doesn't want to say "I love this book" but something more along the lines of "it needs to be read".

Sara's family is still trying to recover from the tragedy of when
What She Left Behind is one of the most terrific realistic fictions that blew me up. The book is a mirror to reality that reflects the daily drama of domestic violence. Sara and her mom, wants to escape from Sara’s abusive father, so they made a plan of running away. When her mom didn’t show up according to the plan as expected, Sara was terrified. Her father told her, her mom left town for some business purpose Sara knew her father has something to do with her mother’s disappearance. Sara was s ...more
Dec 27, 2016 added it
I don't know what took me so long to get around to this book. I knew about it shortly after it was published. It's a suspenseful mystery that keeps the reader completely engaged. I read it while I was reading Lisa Cron's STORY GENIUS, and this book provided excellent examples for the lessons I learned from Lisa. ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really liked this! I wasn't too sure what this book was about, since I hadn't heard much about it so far. I wanted to read this since the first time I saw it. The cover was so creepy and the summary made it sound so intense. I can say that this book didn't disappoint me at all!

What She Left Behind tells the story of Sara and her relationship with her abusive father. One day her mother tell Sara that they are leaving and that she will pick her up during her lunch break at school. But when her
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What She Left Behind is the story of the 16 year old Sara's tragic life, and how she must go on after her mom's dissapeared - apparently she's on businesstrip. But Sara knows better, because they had plans on leaving her violent father the exact same day her mom dissapeared. Left with a dad turning more and more violent, trying to pretend everything is fine, Sara starts digging for clues.

What She Left Behind had it all; suspense, a heroine you can actually like, an exciting story that will keep
Chelsea Groves
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tear-jerkers
What She Left Behind tells the story of Sara and her relationship with her abusive father. One day her mother tell Sara that they are leaving and that she will pick her up during her lunch break at school. But when her mother doesn't show up, Sara starts to wonder what actually happened to her mother. Her father then begins to become abusive towards Sara as she tries to figure out what happened to her mother and why she disappeared.

This is a very quick read. I just couldn't put it down. It was s
Katie Fritz
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sara's mom told her she'd come get her at lunch. They were running away from their town, from the death of Sara's brother, from her abusive dad. Thing thing is, Sara's mom never showed up. Now Sara is stuck in her town, trying to figure out when her mother will come and get her, or if she ever will. Her best friend Zach and crush Alex know something's wrong, but not what. Sara's dad seems all too normal, even with his wife not being home. She has to take the brunt of his abuse, playing the quiet ...more
Nadia Uhlenhaker
3.75 stars.

I loved this book. It's very rare that I pick up a book about abuse because they tend to make me really depressed, but this book was beautifully executed and ended perfectly.

First off, I loved the writing and the plot. I'm sure this plot has been done a million times before, but this one was new to me and I liked it. The mystery and suspense made me keep reading, but the little breaks in the middle kept me from snapping with fright.

The characters were wonderfully written, and I felt
Kerryn (RatherBeReading)
3.5 stars

I enjoyed this book but at the same time I didn't feel 100% connected to the story. I thought the author did a great job of 'demonising' the father. Despite flashbacks to earlier times, I felt no sympathy whatsoever for this man.

I found the romance in this to be a little insta-lovey, however, I did still enjoy reading these scenes. I did also appreciate that Sara's friendship with Zach never went to a romantic place and that this book avoided an unnecessary love triangle trope.

I also di
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
**4 STARS**

Oh my god. I loved this so much! What She Left Behind was such an incredible mystery/thriller. Reading this reminded me of just how much I love this genre, and now I'm itching to read more similar books. My heart was beating like crazy during my entire time reading this book! Such a fast, exciting read. My only dislike, personally, was that the main relationship in this story seemed to come on way too fast; I enjoy seeing relationships develop more slowly, over time, in books. But oth
Cori Nichols
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
This book was won in a giveaway.
Being a woman who has survived domestic abuse, I found this book to be wonderful. It shows that no matter who you are, you can have strength and courage. You find out a lot more than you bargained for. I am going to keep an eye on this author. To read more of my review go to https://journeyingwithceltic.wordpres...

Thank you
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a gripping book! While it was at times very difficult to read because of the very real abuse this book deals with, Bilen did an awesome job of balancing the very dark points with lighter ones. It kept me riveted from start to finish. Very, very good!
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a fast paced story told through the eyes of a teenager. However I started looking to see if it was noted anywhere as being written FOR a teenager. Fortunately it was short. I did want to see how it ended and it was very easy to read.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suspenseful read

This novel is well crafted. The story is suspenseful seen through a young high school girl's eyes. A horrid tale of abuse with the wonderful feelings of first love and the pain of unbearable loss.
Daria Gray
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love the book , it was really strange at some part but it was really cool
Jennae Long
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Speechless... I'm in love with this book! ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The ending had me on edge. It was the most intense thing ever. Overall, amazing read.
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Tracy Bilen is the YA author of What She Left Behind and Whisper. She is a high school French teacher in Michigan where she lives with her husband and children. Tracy studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and taught Spanish at a high school ski academy. She loves biking, traveling, and red velvet cake.

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