In this stunning new novel, the acclaimed author of THE PLUM TREE merges the past and present into a haunting story about the nature of love and loyaltyâ€”and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.
Ten years ago, Izzy Stoneâ€™s mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her motherâ€™s apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at a local museum, have enlisted Izzyâ€™s help in cataloging items at a long-shuttered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades old journal, and a window into her own past.
Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant. Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Claraâ€™s father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her careâ€”and Clara is committed to the public asylum.
Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Claraâ€™s story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own motherâ€™s violent act? Piecing together Claraâ€™s fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choicesâ€”with shocking and unexpected results.
Illuminating and provocative, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND is a masterful novel about the yearning to belongâ€”and the mysteries that can belie even the most ordinary life.