Leave No Trace

A Novel

LIST PRICE $13.99

About The Book

From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.

“A tense and gripping read that plumbs the depths of grief and longing...As thrilling as a whitewater rapid and as dark as the Minnesotan wilderness itself.” —Amy Gentry, internationally bestselling author of Good as Gone

“Dark and atmospheric, with palpably vivid details and complex characters harboring plenty of secrets...the perfect combination of gorgeous prose and edge-of-your-seat storytelling.” —Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of The Marriage Lie

“This novel deserves the top-spot on your reading list!”—Hannah Mary McKinnon, author of The Neighbors

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later...the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Leave No Trace includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. 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.

Introduction

From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years earlier a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged. They are presumed dead until a decade later, when the son appears. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he is violent and uncommunicative and consequently sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the past ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father, who has disappeared from the known world.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Leave No Trace is set in present-day Minnesota, both in the wilderness of the Boundary Waters and its more urban landscapes. What details does Mejia use to create atmosphere and build the setting? How does place affect the action of the story?

2. What was your first impression of Maya? Did your feelings toward her change throughout the novel? What did you think of her when she confessed to killing Derek?

3. Family relationships are at the heart of Leave No Trace; compare and contrast the parent-child relationships in the novel. What themes does Mejia explore within these relationships?

4. The geography of the Boundary Waters is integral to Leave No Trace. Note the way Mejia balances the beauty and danger of this remote location in her descriptions. What passages do you find most emphasize the unique place?

5. The other “disappeared” people Mejia mentions in the story, such as Ho Van Thanh, Agafia Lykov, and Christopher Knight, are all real people. Pick one or two and research their stories. Which disappearance most intrigues you? What do you think captures the imagination about people living away from society?

6. What role does the Bannockburn shipwreck play in the novel? How does its story parallel the stories of characters in Leave No Trace?

7. At the end of the novel, Mejia writes, “There are some places, though, we can only go alone.” Think about the spaces (physical, mental, emotional) that Mejia’s characters experience by themselves. Are there any common factors?

8. As you read along, what did you think happened to Josiah, Lucas, Heather, and Jane? How did it differ from what is revealed at the end of the novel?

9. Extreme circumstances and intertwined history aside, what do you think attracts Maya and Lucas to each other? What similar personality traits do you see in these two characters?

10. “I was the girl who didn’t need anyone and made sure things stayed that way. . . . My life was lonely, but there was something vital in the loneliness, an imperative that I keep the space around me empty and weightless,” Maya thinks to herself after Lucas comes to her home and begins to break down her emotional barriers. How does Mejia draw the distinction between solitude and loneliness? Who in the novel would you deem lonely and who lives in solitude? How do their situations change during the course of the novel?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. For your next book group pick, read Mindy’s previous novel, Everything You Want Me to Be, and compare and contrast the main characters. What themes occur in the lives of these characters? What seems to interest Mindy about her characters in both books?

2. Read another book set in Minnesota, such as a novel by William Kent Krueger, and discuss the ways the authors address setting and Midwestern culture. How do both portray the landscape and the people who live there?

3. Learn more about Mindy Mejia on her website: https://mindymejia.com/

About The Author

Photography by Bree Allen

Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University. Her debut novel, The Dragon Keeper, was published by Ashland Creek Press in 2012. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two children. She is the author of Everything You Want Me to Be and Leave No Trace.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (September 2018)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501177385

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Raves and Reviews

"Mindy Mejia's latest is riveting."

– US Weekly

"Mejia's thrilling tale works both as an engaging mystery and a haunting meditation on grief, abandonment, and the lost places within ourselves. Brutal, devastating, and utterly riveting."

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The author uses Lake Superior's violent storms and the Boundary Waters' forbidding wilderness to intensify the story's emotional impact and heighten its exploration into the unpredictability of half-buried secrets."

– Booklist (starred review)

"Atmospheric . . . arresting."

– Publishers Weekly

"Mejia’s writing crosses back and forth between exquisite literary descriptions and thrilleresque escapes and acts of violence."

– New York Journal of Books

“With intensely complicated characters, a fast-paced plot, lots of twists and turns, and an impeccable ending, LEAVE NO TRACE is the type of book one finishes in one sitting, preferably with rain pattering on the window and a cup of coffee in hand.”

– Minnesota Monthly Magazine

“A boy missing for ten years emerges from the Minnesota wilderness in Mindy Mejia’s spellbinding page-turner, LEAVE NO TRACE. Dark and atmospheric, with palpably vivid details and complex characters harboring plenty of secrets, Leave No Trace is the perfect combination of gorgeous prose and edge-of-your-seat storytelling. Clear your calendar, this is a book you’ll want to swallow in one sitting. A stunner!”

– Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of THE MARRIAGE LIE

“A tense and gripping read that plumbs the depths of grief and longing, LEAVE NO TRACE is as thrilling as a whitewater rapid and as dark as the Minnesotan wilderness itself. Mejia has a gift for creating characters who feel like family, and by the end of this book I would have followed her gutsy speech-therapist heroine Maya to the ends of the earth. Through twist after twist, this riveting story will have you asking yourself just how far you would go to find out exactly where you came from.”

– Amy Gentry, internationally bestselling author of GOOD AS GONE

“I fell in love with Mindy Mejia’s EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, and with LEAVE NO TRACE she solidifies her position as one of my go-to authors. Smart, sophisticated and with characters so real, I kept expecting Maya and Lucas to stroll out of the forest. This novel deserves the top-spot on your reading list!”

– Hannah Mary McKinnon, author of THE NEIGHBORS

“Set against the backdrop of Minnesota's Boundary Waters, Mindy Mejia continues to create characters that are both vulnerable and strong as they navigate the wild terrain through seemingly impossible relationships. LEAVE NO TRACE is a thrill ride of a novel that captures the ferocity of both nature and humankind. The story of Maya and Lucas is one I won't soon forget.”

– Karen Katchur, author of RIVER BODIES

"Mindy Mejia’s LEAVE NO TRACE leaves the reader breathless: Daring characters, a suspenseful story you will tear through, and the ticking clock of an approaching dark, cold Minnesota winter. Riveting."

– Lori Rader-Day, award-winning author of THE BLACK HOUR

"Riveting and beautifully rendered, LEAVE NO TRACE hooks you from the first page and never lets go. A must-read thriller."

– Laura McHugh, award-winning and internationally bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD and ARROWOOD

"This psychological thriller is a triumph."

– Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"A thrilling, addictive read."

– Always with a Book

"If you couldn't tear yourself away from Everything You Want Me to Be, you definitely need to pick up this new book by Mindy Mejia."

– Bustle

"An exciting mystery that keeps you turning the pages to find out more. Must read!"

– Reviews by Jules

"Mindy Mejia kicks things up a notch, delivering another nail-biting page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go."

– The Real Book Spy

"Fascinating."

– Barnes & Noble.com, Best New Books

"Excellent . . . A strong sense of place infuses LEAVE NO TRACE, especially the expansive Boundary Waters--a place of wild beauty."

– The Associated Press

"Leave No Trace is a masterful gem with that rare combination of provocative and magical descriptions, compelling characters, and a breathtaking, heart-pounding plot. A powerful journey exploring the fluidity of sanity, the pain of depression, and the healing properties of the natural world. I haven't been this transported by a journey in the woods since reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild. This story will linger with readers long after the last page is turned."

– E. C. Diskin, author of bestselling BROKEN GRACE

"This psychological mystery explores the impact of a life lived in true isolation."

– Real Simple, "Best Books of 2018"

"Mejia wows again with wonderful words, great character development, and a beautiful homage to the Boundary Waters."

– City Pages

"Leave No Trace is an entertaining book that also alters one’s world view just a bit in the end."

– BOLO Books, "Top Reads of 2018"

"An insightful look into mental health issues, a media frenzy and life in the wild."

– South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Best of 2018: Mysteries"

"he writing is so good, and the story so mysterious, that Mejia kept me turning pages for the answers to all the riddles. Readers who enjoyed books by Gillian Flynn or Tana French should enjoy this one. “

– The Internet Review of Books

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