The Fall of Lisa Bellow

A Novel

The Fall of Lisa Bellow

The breakout novel from the critically acclaimed author of the short story collections Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do—when a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

What happens to the girl left behind?

A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

Like Everything I Never Told You and Room, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime. It is a dark, beautifully rendered, and gripping novel about coping, about coming-of-age, and about forgiveness. It is also a beautiful illustration of how one family, broken by tragedy, finds healing.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476761466 | 
  • March 2017
List Price $25.99 (price may vary by retailer)
This title is temporarily out of stock, please check back soon.
Buy from another retailer

Read an Excerpt

Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Fall of Lisa Bellow includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Susan Perabo. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


A story of the intricate ties that bind families together, The Fall of Lisa Bellow starts with a harrowing near-kidnapping that leaves one family questioning how to move forward. Husband and wife dentists Mark and Claire retreat into old patterns, while their teenage children Evan and Meredith forge new identities as the community reels around them.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Claire’s experience of motherhood is very different from Colleen Bellow’s, both in attitude and in circumstance. Who do you think is the “better” mother, and why?

2. The dark underbelly of a “safe” suburban life is a through line in the book. In what ways does the Oliver family fit the “picture perfect” suburban mold? In what ways do they not?

3. Evan was once Meredith’s “best friend, confidante, the love of her life.” How does Meredith and Evan’s relationship change over the course of the novel? How had it changed even before Evan see more

More Books from this Author

Why They Run the Way They Do
Who I Was Supposed to Be
The Broken Places

About the Author

Susan Perabo
Sha'an Chilson

Susan Perabo

Susan Perabo is the author of the collections of short stories, Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do, and the novels The Broken Places and The Fall of Lisa Bellow. Her fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Stories, and New Stories from the South, and has appeared in numerous magazines, including One Story, Glimmer Train, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, and The Sun. She is Writer in Residence and professor of English at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Queens University. She holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.