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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR:
What She Left Behind
by Tracy Bilen
1. Why doesn't Sara tell anyone except Zach her suspicions about her mom? Is there anyone else she could have or should have told? Would you have told someone else, if you were in her situation? Why or why not?
2. Alex starts showing an interest in Sara right around when her mom goes missing. In what ways is her growing relationship with him good for her during this time, and how is it bad? Why didn't Sara tell Alex about her mom?
3. For English class Sara writes a lot about her family. What do you learn about them and about her from these essays?
4. Sara and her mom watch a TV soap opera, Winds of Change. How is the main character, Julia, like Sara's mother?
5. What has made Sara's dad so violent and crazy? What was he like back when the family lived in Philadelphia?
6. Early on, Sara says she is mad at her brother Matt for killing himself. Why do you think she is mad at him? Do you think that is a fair response for her to have?
7. At one point, after Sara's mom has been missing for many days, Sara thinks “I want to go home,” even though she's actually in her house. Why doesn't it feel like home to her now? What does home mean to you?
8. Were you surprised by the ending? Did anything in the story lead you to expect this outcome?
9. In the end, Sara says she still loves her dad: How can this be? If you learned a parent or loved one did something criminal, do you think you would still love him or her?
10. Sara keeps the secret from her friends, teachers, and other family members that her mom is missing and that her dad might have killed her mom. What other characters have secrets that their friends and family don't know?
11. Do you think Sara faces her problems courageously? What are examples from the story that help you answer this? Explain, from your answer, what you think courage is. Guide prepared by Jean Kowaleski. This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.