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Literature / What She Left Behind

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What She Left Behind is a young adult novel by Tracy Bilen about a girl named Sara who is a victim of domestic abuse after her brother kills himself. Sara's mother makes plans with Sara to run away, but she disappeared right before they were supposed to leave. Most of the book consists of Sara, her brother's friend Zachary, and her new boyfriend Alex trying to figure out what happened to her.

This book provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parent: Sara's father.
  • All Abusers Are Male: The only one we see is, anyway.
  • All Gays Love Theater: Part of the reason Matt's father wanted him to quit the play - it was where he was meeting with Jay, whom he was in a relationship with.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite Sara and her mother's abuse ending, it was still presented as a tragedy that Sara's father died, as Sara still loved him.
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  • Bury Your Gays: Matt died before the beginning of the book. Jay is still alive, though.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jay.
  • Coming-Out Story: Part of the reason that Matt killed himself was that when he came out to his parents, his father wasn't accepting.
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Driven to Suicide: Matt, before the beginning of the book.
  • Offing the Offspring: Sara's father to Matt, and to Sara, to a lesser extent.
  • Old Shame: In universe. Sara's father lost his job as a police officer due to a vaguely described incident a few years before the book's start.
  • The Reveal: Matt is gay and in a relationship with Jay.
  • Secret Relationship: Matt and Jay were in one before the start of the book.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: An interesting example - Sara and eventually her father sometimes pretend that Zachary is Matt so that it doesn't feel like as much of a loss to them.


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