Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Title: What She Left Behind
Author: Tracy Bilen
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Young Adult
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: Purchased
My rating: 4/5


“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.


I really don’t have that much to say about this book, so I’ll keep my review short and give a quick overview of the things I liked and what I didn’t like.

What She Left Behind is one of those so-so reads. Overall, I enjoyed it and it has a really good story. It’s different in that it is sort of a thriller that keeps you guessing until almost at the end. There are clues that the possibility exists that Sara’s mom left without Sara, but there are also clues supporting the possibility that Sara’s dad murdered her mom. I mostly leaned towards the latter because those clues were the most. But whatever happened to Sara’s mom, I’m not gonna spoil it for you. You’ll have to find out what happened to her all on your own. Some would find the plot rather predictable, but I kinda enjoyed the cat-and-mouse twists the author had going. One thing is for sure: this is most definitely a suspenseful read. I mean, Sara’s dad is completely cuckoos and nerve-rackingly unpredictable. Can you say nut job? The suspense sure as heck kept me on the edge of my seat.

And that’s about it. That’s what kept me hooked. The characters are somewhat unremarkable, and the romance sort of spoiled it for me. At first I thought the romance was only there to fluff up the plot, but at the end I saw the purpose of it. Sara’s reactions sometimes gave me whiplash. One moment she’s head-over-heels in love, and the next she’s sick with worry about her mom. It’s like she had an on/off switch. You’ll find her thinking and worrying about her mom’s disappearance, and just like that she’s instantly all swoony about Alex. Even at the end of the book I felt all “bleh” about her. But at least Zack and Alex were quite interesting, and Sara’s volatile father had more personality than she did, so between those three they kept my mind from drifting while reading.

Anyhoo, I said I’ll keep my review to the point. This is really not a bad read, especially towards the end. The last half was definitely better than the first half. What She Left Behind is perfect for fans of Ten by Gretchen McNeil.


What She Left Behind has 175 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.



Tracy Bilen is a high school French and Spanish teacher in Michigan where she lives with her husband and two children. Before moving to Michigan, Tracy taught at a ski school for high school students in Vermont (Spanish, not skiing!). She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and taught English in Strasbourg, France. She enjoys cross-country skiing and walks in the woods. Her debut young adult novel, What She Left Behind, was released by Simon Pulse in 2012.

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