Before She Was Found

Before She Was Found

by Heather Gudenkauf


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A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778307730
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication date: 04/16/2019
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 22,829
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound. Heather lives in Iowa with her family.

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Before She Was Found 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
AmyD09 3 months ago
I really enjoyed reading this one! Told from alternate points of view, including journal entries and social media posts, this story is unlike anything I have read before. Just when I thought I had it all figured out the author changes who is telling the story and you start to second guess your instincts. Heather Gudenkauf is a fantastic writer whose storytelling is mesmerizing. I am already looking forward to whatever she writes next!
lsmoore_43 5 months ago
WOW!! Just WOW!! This book knocked my socks off. From the very first page to the dramatic ending I was hooked and did not want to put this psychological dramatic thriller down. I wanted to keep turning the pages even when we needed to eat. I made several guesses as to who did what but was wrong every single time. This was one of the hardest books I have read. The subject matter is so delicate. Young girls who are friends/not friends. From bullying to attempted murder. This book has a bit of everything. Even somewhat of a love story. It definitely will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won’t want to put it down and you will never guess what happened. The author did a fantastic job with this book. The story is intense for sure and it’s a bit of a tearjerker in places. Lots of places. Well developed characters. Great research obviously. I liked all the characters except for Cora’s dad. I didn’t relate to him at all. He seemed a bit cold and uncaring in almost all ways. My heart broke for Jordyn’s grandpa and for Violet’s mother. I felt awful for Cora’s mother too. Her sister Kendall I had mixed emotions about. I felt for her but also thought she was mean for her part in some things. But I still felt bad for her. I loved how it was written in many different voices. Points of view are important with this kind of story. It was so well written that I felt like I was right there. I held my breathe in so many places. Cringed in so many and wanted to hold the children and keep them safe. This book will give you lots of feelings but the main feeling is empathy for the children and parents/grandparents. The fears that they felt. The horror they went through. It was heartbreaking. This is my second book to read my Heather Gudenkauf and it will not be my last. I will be looking forward to many more. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for the ARC of this book. Another big 5 stars from me. I must read for everyone who loves a good thriller.
blueeyedshook 24 days ago
"I didn't die," she whispered, revealing the gaps in her teeth where her attacker had knocked them out. "I'm still here." A timely and relevant story. As a parent, this book made me cringe but also think. At times it was hard to get through the journals and email exchanges and descriptions. Cora, the little girl who is attacked as the book opens, and the girls she thinks are her friends, are close to my daughter's age. So the story gave my chills. It is amazing the differing world that our children are growing up in with technology at their fingertips. Bullying has changed. Communication has changed. Research as changed. As a story, it works every nerve and fear a parent could have, which makes a great thriller. It certainly kept me turning the pages. One night I stayed up until 2:30 just trying to make it to the end, even with the wind howling and the scratching of trees on window reminding me of Joseph Wither in the book. Alas, I fell asleep and had to read to the end in broad daylight. I don't know if I'm fully satisfied with the ending, though. I'm torn. It almost feels like a cop-out, but maybe that's because there was so much anticipation built throughout the pages. But I did enjoy the book and would certainly recommend it.
a_hartman 3 months ago
Similar to a Wisconsin news story involving three young girls, Before She Was Found takes a new twist to the story. Told from multiple points of view, police reports, and journal entries, this book is impossible to put down. Ms. Gudenkauf takes the reader on a wild ride - full throttle - and doesn't let up until the last pages. The ending is very satisfying... throughout the book, your heart aches for the girls and their families... and you keep wondering how this situation ever happened. A must read for the new year!
connieb27 4 months ago
I received a net-galley of Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf; in exchange for an honest review. Three girls have a sleep over that turns nearly deadly and the mystery unravels from there. Cora ,Violet and Jordyn,set out to solve an urban legend and do not realize the danger they will encounter. Cora is discovered badly beaten, Violet in shock and Jordyn no where to be found. The book leads us thru the investigation and leaves you guessing who is really to blame. I found this book a good read and recommend it.
Theresa B 4 months ago
As the mother of two teen daughters, this was a little difficult for me to read, but Heather Gudenkauf is one of favorite authors and I’ve read all of her books and this book was as riveting and well written as I expected. It was a fast read because I NEEDED to know what happened. I’ve always had a difficult time reading books where something bad happens to a child that is around my children’s ages because I picture my children in those situations. However, this book was about bullying, which is an issue that I feel is an important issue that needs to be addressed in more adult books. My older daughter was bullied about two years ago by someone she thought was a friend, mostly through text messages. Thankfully, I had borrowed my daughter’s phone and happened to see the texts and we talked about how that is not how friends treat each other; about toxic people and relationships and things we can do to take care of ourselves. The story in this book was a lot more tragic. Two 12 year old girls are sleeping over a friend’s house, when the three girls decide to steal out to go to an abandoned lot on the edge of town. Later that night, one of the girls is found clinging to life and the other two are missing. There are many suspects in this small rural town, this book is told from several different characters’ perspectives, as well as through one of the girl’s diary entries and police records. It is absolutely gripping and will keep you up way past your bedtime because, face it, when it comes to books about kids, we all have to know what the hell happened.
CarinaW 4 months ago
Mystery. Death. Facing the unexpected. Taking place in a small town in Iowa, 12-year-old Cora and her friends Violet and Jordyn find themselves involved in a dark and thrilling crime. While the three friends were having a normal sleepover, they decide to sneak out into an abandoned part of the town to meet a man who claimed to be a killer who lived in the town years ago; a decision that would cost them a lot, including a life. Cora is later found alone, bloody and barely alive. Her friends aren’t nearby, but we know for sure that the three of them left the house together. What seems to be murder sparks the questions of figuring out what happened that night Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf teaches students and adults alike to be careful as to who they trust, and what information they choose to share with others. It’s all about trust incorporated into a death related mystery. It makes you think about what lengths you and your family members would go to to protect yourself from revealing one of your secrets. The book indirectly reveals what effect that secret would have on your day to day life, and your friendships. It also shows how conflict builds up within each character after hiding something for so long, to the point where they feel as though they might break. The author made the characters very believable through being very detailed with their actions. Not only did the author make the reader connect with the main characters, but we connected with their family members too. It is one of the best mysteries I have read, and it changed my perspective on what a mystery entails. The whole story is an adventure that the author takes the reader on, teaching us life lessons and making us think about trust differently. Heather Gudenkauf is a mystery-writing author, whose books I have not read many of. However, after reading Before She Was Found, I want to read her other books and follow those characters through their adventure. I enjoy her writing style, and how she uses letters, police reports, texts, etc. to convey a shocking story. The multiple points of view used also adds to the suspense, and it makes the ending even better. The outcome was not predictable at all, which is why I consider it one of the best mysteries I have ever read. I rate this must- read book 5 out of 5 stars for being a great crime novel with underlying social themes and lessons.
Cutiefulpink 4 months ago
Though the main characters of this book are children and teens, this is in no way an immature book. It’s fast paced and mysterious, with sinister intentions mixed into every page. This entire book, I questioned the motives of every character and had a difficult time figuring out what would happen in the end. While some of the mysteries I figured out along the way, this book is far from predictable. With interwoven storylines and multiple points of view, there is an element of unease written into each chapter, because the reader doesn’t ever get the entire story. As in life, we only get one person’s perspective at a time. It’s left up to us to put everything together in a way that makes sense. Or in this, the author puts everything together, because I would not have figured it out without her explanations in the end. The characters in Before She Was Found were refreshing because they were all so normal. Each wanting to believe the best in their own child, not seeing the bad, and making excuses for them whenever trouble presented itself. Not dealing with the hard truths of a child, instead using denial to shield us of unwanted problems, is typical human behavior, and the catalyst for this novel. If any one of the parents involved in this story had stopped to see their child, it’s possible that tragedy could have been avoided. But, it is easier and feels way better to pretend that our lives are perfect. That our pinterest family is as it appears. I loved trying to figure out this book and was thoroughly entertained. If mystery is your thing, then this book is a must-read. * Special thanks to Heather Gudenkauf, Simon & Schuster, and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of Before She Was Found in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Great reading
Bonnie Franks 5 months ago
This book delves into feelings we can relate to. From being the twelve year old who feels left out, the twelve year old who is devious enough to feel superior, and the twelve year old who is just along for the ride. It covers bullying, manipulating, feeling ostracized, feeling helpless. And more. The adults in the book are in a similar place, but on a different level. I enjoyed this book to the fullest, as it stays current as well as relatable. It scares us, it makes us sad, it makes us feel vulnerable. What a well-written book! I won't go into more detail because you need to read it for yourself! Enjoy! I was provided an ARC by NetGalley and I thank them.
Shelley-S-Reviewer 5 months ago
This was a fantastic read. I never could have guessed the final direction it would take. It is one of the best psychological thrillers that I have read. The main characters Cora, Violet and Jordyn were all very well thought out and I was very sympathetic to each of them, they were also very complex characters and it was hard to sort out which direction the story was going. I was trying to figure it all out right up to the very end and it took me totally by surprise. The title Before She Was Found was a very telling one, one that only reveals itself when reading. This is a dark and disturbing, slow-burning read with an interesting twist at the end. The book started out capturing my interest with the poor little girl found near dead. As the story developed I liked how the author broke the book into small chapters focusing on one character and time frame at a time. This is such an amazing and well written book by Heather Gudenkauf. If you are looking to read a book that will have you intrigued and captivated from page one, then Before She Was Found is the book to read. This book was written so well that I was not able to figure out the truth of “who done it” until the reveal. This book left me breathless and I read it in one sitting. It was beautifully written, the characters felt like people I knew. The ending took me completely by surprise and left me stunned. Definitely one of the best books I've ever read, it will stay in my mind for a long time. I can't remember the last time a story affected me so deeply. I often know the who and the why soon in a novel. Not here. I enjoyed this book immensely and found myself intrigued and horrified at the same time. In the end there were so many lives destroyed. This book should make you stop and think. It did me. That is what a good book should do. I totally recommend this book to all who love a good psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.
LuvSnoop42 5 months ago
I have been very fortunate to have read several REALLY good books in a row here lately.....BUT this one knocks it out of the park!!! Absolutely chilling! The plot could be taken from today's headlines, definitely, but with a twist you don't see coming. The story is told through police interviews, journal entries and real time with several different POV's. I was switching alliances at each chapter, then switching back and back again, only to find out I was totally wrong! No spoilers, so I just want to say THANK YOU, #HeatherGudenkauf and #NetGalley for this amazing ARC!!!
Teri1957 5 months ago
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I have always enjoyed Heather's book and this one fulfilled that promise of enjoyment. I did feel this book was written a different way than her previous books. The suspense keeps you turning the pages as fast as you can read. Characters could use a little more development so you can "know" them better. In the end it was an enjoyable thriller involving friends and family. Enjoy!
bookaholique 5 months ago
4.5 Cora, Violet and Joryn are all in middle school. Core is very introverted and just wants to have friends and feel loved. Violet is the new kid in school and also just wants to be accepted. Jordyn runs hot and cold. One minute she is your friend, the next minute she is being a bully. One night during a sleepover, the three girls sneak out to a mostly deserted train yard. Cora is brutally attacked. This is the story of what led up to that fateful night and the aftermath. Heather Gudenkauf has that wonderful ability of really delving into the souls of her characters and showing us what makes them tick. She hit the mark on the trials and tribulation of middle school - wanting to be popular, who eats lunch with who, who gets the "coveted" boyfriend. We see the struggles in each girls family that in part expalins at least some of their behavior. I was all over the pace in trying to figure out who was responsible for the attack on Cora. The story really does goes right down to the very end. Just know that this is not your typical who done it story. My thanks to Harlequin Park Row and Netgalley.
Candice_S 5 months ago
I really, really enjoyed this one - this is one of those books that will suck you right in and refuse to let you loose until you finish the story. I can say honestly I started this book over coffee one morning and did not set it down until I turned the last page to see where it all landed. Heather did amazing work with this book, specifically with the way she chose to tell the story. I liked the unusual story format of using different mediums to reveal the twists, I loved the “pulled from the headlines” feel, and I definitely didn’t see that end coming. Moving between characters perspectives in real time, journal entries and case transcripts, it was like little bits of the mystery becoming clearer and clearer, but never clear enough for me to get a good handle on where it was going to end. I LOVE THAT - I feel like so many stories are guessable now, that to be genuinely surprised is wonderful. I won't reveal more, because no one likes a spoiler, but guys, this is a quick easy read, and is PERFECT for a summer TBR.
CCinME 5 months ago
Topical treatment about three 12-year old girls, their families, their small town and the urban legend that haunts that town. The three girls end up in an abandoned train yard at midnight to meet the legend. Two come out but one is seriously injured, near death. Which girl did it? There are multiple likely avenues for the police to pursue and we go along for the ride. The terrible truth ekes out throughout the story where the truth is not revealed until the bitter end. Engaging, engrossing and terribly scary!
CCinME 5 months ago
Topical treatment about three 12-year old girls, their families, their small town and the urban legend that haunts that town. The three girls end up in an abandoned train yard at midnight to meet the legend. Two come out but one is seriously injured, near death. Which girl did it? There are multiple likely avenues for the police to pursue and we go along for the ride. The terrible truth ekes out throughout the story where the truth is not revealed until the bitter end. Engaging, engrossing and terribly scary!
LlamaJen 5 months ago
I will start off with that I am a huge fan of Heather Gudenkauf. I have read all of the author's books and loved them. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I didn't hate it, but found it to just be OK. It definitely reminded me of Slender Man and the crazy tween girls who decided to kill their friend. I didn't mind the story, it was more the characters. I just didn't like them. I don't have to like the characters to like a book, but these girls did nothing for me. Usually I love books that alternate between narrators, but this one jumped between so many and at times was confusing. I didn't expect the ending, but none of the girls ever told the truth so it was hard to guess what really happened until it was finally revealed. No one was really punished. I was sort of disappointed with the ending. Everyone just goes their separate ways like it's normal for a twelve year old to get stabbed in a train yard and blame it on a ghost. I do recommend the book, especially for fans of the author's previous books. I look forward to reading more books by the author. I received a complimentary copy of this book from HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
SheTreadsSoftly 5 months ago
Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf is a very highly recommended psychological thriller and mystery. I could not put this novel down! Twelve-year-old Cora, Violet, and Jordyn are having a sleepover at Cora's home in the small town of Pitch Iowa. When they decide to sneak outside and go to the abandoned rail yard, the end result is Cora found severely beaten, Violet is in shock and covered in blood, and Jordyn is at her home with her grandfather. The police and the parents are trying to find answers to who did this and why, but the answers are much more complicated than first imagined. Who could be responsible for this kind of crime? Cora has been struggling to make friends and navigate the emotional cesspool that is Middle School. Violet is shy, new to town, and it looks like she and Cora are going to be good friends. Jordyn is the school queen bee and a bully. She has been cruel to Cora, so her change of heart is suspect. The three girls have been working together on a class project on urban legends. They have chosen a local man, Joseph Wither, who was lived decades ago and is reputed to be a killer of young high school girls over the years. The three supposedly thought they were going to the rail yard to meet a man claiming to be Wither, who would be in his 90's now. Before She Was Found opens with the assault and then the past events leading up to are slowly disclosed. The narrative unfolds through the point-of-view of several different characters along with journal entries, text messages, therapist notes, and police interrogations. There are so many layers to this story and as each new clue is revealed, your suspect will change. Finding answers through girls who aren't able to say what happened, parents who are protecting their kids, authorities who are struggling to find clues and answers makes the investigation into the truth complicated and constantly changing. The ending is absolutely disquieting and stunning. The writing is superb and the pacing of the narrative is perfect. I was totally immersed in the mystery and compulsively said "Just one more chapter..." while trying to figure out what happened. The characters were all believable and well-developed, although they aren't all reliable. At the conclusion of Before She Was Found I sat there, stunned. I did not even have a hint of a guess about what really happened. Before She Was Found is an excellent novel, compelling and engrossing throughout the whole novel. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Park Row Books.
TheBookBag 5 months ago
This is a story that grabbed me from the very first chapter and didn't let go until the very end. What an intense first chapter! So much was going on in those first few words that I needed to have straightened out and explained. The ever changing relationships of the three young girls in this story was so indicative of the lives of teens today Some days they are best friends and then the next day, they could be conspiring against one another, planning and plotting to make the outcast friend miserable. As the mystery of what happened that night in the abandoned rail yard unfolds, the reader learns all sides of the story and has to question who is telling the truth. What really happened that night? What is the truth? I loved Before She Was Found for it's complexity and for all of the interesting characters whose lives became so intertwined. This is a story that I will definitely read again. I am pretty sure that now that I know how all the twists resolve themselves, I will see everyone and everything in a whole different light.
Nanna51 5 months ago
This was a totally captivating story of three pre-teen girls who are caught in a web of social media and peer pressure. Told with text messages, notes from a therapist, a journal and from the viewpoints of various characters, this story was portrayed realistically and in a way that kept me reading long into the night. The three friends are Cora, Jordyn and Violet who happen to decide to have a sleepover together. Before the night ends, one is horribly maimed, another is a psychological wreck and the third goes from being a goody-two-shoes to open defiance. Throughout the book, it was hard to tell who was lying and whose secrets were actually the truth. The conclusion was a real shocker to me; I never saw it coming at all! The ending was teased at but never fully revealed, making for a very satisfying and totally gripping read. Fans of Gudenkauf will not want to miss this one and fans of psychological thriller with a ton of twists will not want to miss out either. Seldom am I so fooled as I was by this book, and it was such a happy feeling when I got to the end that I wanted to read it again and again, just so I could watch for all the clues that I had missed the first time. A solid thriller with a lot of commentary about dangers for society’s pre-teens, dangers that are everywhere. Disclaimer Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
Anonymous 5 months ago
Renwarsreads 5 months ago
This story centers around three 12 year old girls who are friends and enemies at the same time. Their family dynamics are all different and come in to play with how the story unfolds. I really liked this book, I thought the girls were written in a very realistic way, their personalities were very different and they really were examples of today's world and how it even effects young girls that are just becoming teens. The end surprised me, but after thinking about it, it didn't surprise me too much!
diane92345 5 months ago
Shy Cora, newcomer Violet, and assertive Jordyn are friends—or possibly frenemies—in a rural Iowa middle school in Before She Was Found. Cora and Violet are forced by their teacher to add “mean girl” Jordyn to their group researching urban legends for a class project. Jordyn suggests using Joseph Wither, a local murderer from the 1940s who has since gained urban legend status. When the girls have a sleepover, they decide to go to the deserted train yard to look for evidence that Joseph is real. The next morning, one girl is found severely wounded. One is in shock and covered with blood. The last denies she was even at the train station. All state they don’t recall what happened. I enjoyed the different reactions of the parents and guardians of the girls. One hides what may or may not be evidence. Another gets angry at the other girls, the doctors, and the police. There are many twists and turns as each girl begins to point their finger at another. The innovation of using case notes, police interview transcripts, personal journals, and multiple point-of-views works to allow the reader to see everyone’s side. The final conclusion is was intended to be a big surprise but I saw the foreshadowing and guessed the end. Before She Was Found is highly recommended for thriller fans. 4 stars! Thanks to Park Row Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
ColoradoGirl71 5 months ago
This book gave me the chills! Three 12-year-old girls get in way over their heads at a sleepover and one of them ends up almost dead, leaving the small town stunned. Who could do this? A thriller that kept me guessing until the end! We have Cora, Violet, and Jordyn and a complicated friendship. Violet is new to town and trying to make friends. Cora is looking for a new best friend and Jordyn is the queen bee. There is some bullying and teen behavior that typifies middle-school girls. The girls’ parents get drawn into the aftermath of the tragedy and there are some interesting dynamics there! Some of the adults don’t exhibit model behavior, justified as protecting the ones they love. These characters seem like a powder keg just waiting to go off! Gudenkauf uses some interest storytelling tools: text messages, psychologist notes, and some chapters from a diary that start to put the pieces together, but I was way off on my guesses for this one. I started to suspect everyone, and the author was so clever. This was my fourth Heather Gudenkauf book and she remains a consistent go-to author for a thriller that does not disappoint.