Eleven-year-old Lauren O'Neil vanished one sunny afternoon as she walked home from school. Six years later, her parents Rachel and Dan still tirelessly scour their Oregon hometown and beyond, always believing Lauren will be found. Then one day, the call comes.
Lauren has been rescued from a secluded farm mere miles away, and her abductor has confessed. Yet her return is nothing like Rachel imagined. Though the revelations about what Lauren endured are shocking, most heartbreaking of all is to see the bright-eyed, assertive daughter she knew transformed into a wary, polite stranger.
Lauren's first instinct is to flee. For years she's been told her parents forgot her; now she doubts the pieces of her life can ever fit together again. But Rachel refuses to lose her a second time. Little by little they must relearn what it means to be a family, trusting that their bond is strong enough to guide them back to each other.
Intensely moving and absorbing, this is an extraordinary story told with sensitivity and grace, and filled with the depth and breadth of a mother's love.
Praise for Rosalind Noonan
"Noonan has a knack for page-turners and doesn't disappoint." --Publishers Weekly on All She Ever Wanted
"The author once again takes on an emotional topic with great sensitivity." --Booklist on The Daughter She Used to Be
"Reminiscent of Jodi Picoult's kind of tale. . .it's a keeper!" --New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson on One September Morning
1. Although stranger abduction is one of a parent’s worst
nightmares, most abducted children are kidnapped by
their own parents or relatives. Are there ways that society
might safeguard children from people like Kevin
Hawkins? Discuss the balance between warning children
of “stranger danger” and allowing them a modicum
of trust toward their community.
2. Do you think Rachel’s decision to let Lauren walk home
from school was irresponsible? Have you ever made a
“responsible” choice that you regretted later?
3. Kidnapped at age eleven, Lauren was held captive in
semi-isolation for six years. Discuss the important stages
of development she “missed” during that time. What lifedefining
moments do you remember from your teenage
4. While in captivity, Lauren nurtured an idealized view of
family life by watching videotapes of old television sitcoms.
What is the downside of looking for relationship
truths in shows like Full House and Seventh Heaven?
What positive values might these shows teach a child?
5. In the later years of her captivity, Lauren was not handcuffed
or locked inside by Kevin Hawkins. What kept
her from fleeing the compound?
6. Rachel believed that the terrible ordeal would be over once
her daughter was found. Instead, the young woman who
was rescued did not want to return to her family. What expectations
should society have toward recovered captives?
Should women of legal age be pressured to return to their
families of origin? Why or why not?
7. When Lauren tries to re-assimilate with her family, her
mother is the one person she finds it hard to bond with.
“I know Mom can be a pain in the ass,” Sierra tells
Lauren, “but she does mean well. She loves you a lot.”
Although Lauren knows this is true, the feelings of resentment
and betrayal prevail. Why does Lauren feel so
much anger toward her mother? Do you think Rachel’s
personality makes their breach worse, or does it help
them mend their relationship?
8. In therapy, Lauren learns about finding balance in life.
“Male and female, darkness and light, cold and hot, evil
and good. At first she had told Wynonna that she
wanted to be only yang, the sunny side of the slope. But
Wynonna pointed out that the sun always moves across
the slope, obscuring what was revealed and revealing
what was hidden.” Discuss the interplay between yin
and yang. Do you agree with Wynonna’s assertion that
“We appreciate the sunlight more when we’ve been living
9. In the past, conventional therapy has not worked for
Dan, who “was not an advocate of wasting time on a
shrink’s couch. Too invasive, too touchy-feely, and way
too expensive.” What elements of Wynonna’s program
appealed to him? How could conventional psychotherapy
be adapted to better suit clients?
10. The use of horses as a therapeutic aid dates back to ancient
Greece. This therapy developed Lauren’s cognitive
skills as well as establishing a relationship of trust between
horse and rider. From playing ball with a horse to
teaching it how to deal with fear, what was the most interesting
aspect of this therapy for you?
11. What do you think Lauren will be doing five years after
the story ends? What sort of career/future do you envision
12. If you were producing And Then She Was Gone as a
movie, who would you cast as Lauren? What actress
has the nurturing quality and hard drive of Rachel?
Who do you see as Dan? Sometimes attractive villains
are the most devastating. Who would you cast as Kevin