What She Left Behind

Buy the Book:
Barnes & Noble

Published by: Kensington
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Pages: 368
ISBN13: 978-1496730039



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 loyalty—and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

Ten years ago, Izzy Stone’s mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother’s apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at a local museum, have enlisted Izzy’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, Clara’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 care—and Clara is committed to the public asylum.

Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara’s story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother’s violent act? Piecing together Clara’s fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices—with shocking and unexpected results.

Illuminating and provocative, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND is a masterful novel about the yearning to belong—and the mysteries that can belie even the most ordinary life.


“Finding out how both Izzy and Clara’s stories unfold and eventually connect will both haunt and inspire you…Wiseman paints a moving, and at times chilling story that totally endears you to her characters. What She Left Behind evocatively portrays that what it takes, sometimes, to know and understand oneself, is to understand fully somebody else.”
– SpaWeek

What She Left Behind screams with authenticity, depth, and understanding.”
– The New York Journal of Books

“Wiseman does an excellent job of conveying the horrifying methods employed to cure the mentally ill…What She Left Behind is a real page turner and will appeal to all readers of fiction, though the subject matter is not for the faint of heart.”
– The Historical Novels Review

“This amazing book tells the stories of two women divided by many decades, both facing overwhelming odds. The stories are told in alternating chapters, but these stories, despite their great differences, have similarities and are destined to come together. This is a great read!”
– The San Francisco Book Review

“Here’s a little book that’s full of fear. Just as the night monsters in Mayhem rouse an atavistic terror that we moderns can’t seem to shake, so does the symbolism in Ellen Marie Wiseman’s, What She Left Behind. This time, it’s the insane asylum, the lunatic bin and all the other politically incorrect names for the creepy facilities that housed the poor patients of another era.”
– The Toronto Star

“Wiseman deftly alternates between Claire and Izzy, teasing out their stories and ending each chapter at just the right point to maintain a thriving sense of mystery and suspense…a valuable addition to most schools and public libraries.”
– VOYA Magazine

“Captivating in its complexity, this novel brings together the strengths and suffering of two young women born more than 60 years apart. Told in alternating perspectives, the story reaches a place of immense emotional depth and psychological turmoil, culminating in an unexpected, heartrending ending.”
– RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, TOP PICK!

“Give this to students interested in history, psychology, and a great coming-of-age story.”
– School Library Journal

A Kindle Top 200 Bestseller for over two years
Over half a million copies sold in North America
Ten Best Books of Summer 2015—Huffington Post
One Book, One Independence 2018 title in Independence, Iowa