“Three twelve-year-old girls walk into a train yard and two come out unscathed. What doctor wouldn’t be fascinated?”Heather Gudenkauf, Before She Was Found, page 26
Much like No Exit by Taylor Adams, Before She Was Found was out of my usual realm of the books I read. There was one thing that annoyed me greatly as I read through the book and that was how author Heather Gudenkauf continually switched between first and third person. The mother, Beth Crow, and the doctor, Dr. Madeline Gideon, were written in first person while all the other characters were in third, and I couldn’t really figure out why. I already can’t tolerate reading in the first person point-of-view as I can never seem to really connect with the story that way, but with switching back and forth between first and third, that seems to mess with the head even more. I got to the point that I almost didn’t finish after being a few pages in because it was driving me insane. The guilt that I feel when I don’t finish a book kept me going, however. I just had a really hard time connecting to the characters. I couldn’t get the feel for them that I typically would get while reading a story.
By the end, I was quite happy though to have finished it as it turned out to be quite a good story, one filled with suspense and mystery. The description of the book threw me a bit, however, when I had read about the girls playing with an Ouija board as when you think Ouija, you think ghosts, spirits, and evil. I believe the word, Ouija, was mentioned once and that was it, and I believe it was mentioned by Violet’s brother, Max, in a passing statement. I was disappointed some that it didn’t include those spirits and evil as anticipated as I believe it would have made the story move up another notch. The diary entries caught my attention though when I read the first few that were in the storyline. It wasn’t the entry what she wrote that I really noticed, yet how it had Case #92-10945 noted; the first thing that came to my mind – mental hospital. This made me want to find out if my thoughts were true and why such a young child would be placed in a hospital such as that.
From that point on you start to realize that Cora isn’t as stable as she’s perceived to be. Her parents didn’t even want to acknowledge the signs of her needing to find help. Every child has imaginary friends, but that usually stops around the age of four or five. But when your twelve-year-old child is seeing a cat that doesn’t exist, hearing voices coming from the vents, among other things, that should tell a parent right off how they need to find psychiatric help for their child, not ignore the signs until things escalate. In Cora’s case, these signs were ignored and things came to a point where she could no longer contain herself. And in the process her friends were caught up in it all, becoming victims themselves.
About Before She Was Found
If you’re expecting to read about evil spirits taking over control and attacking one of the girls, then you may want to find something else to read. Now, if you believe you will be reading about three young girls who go out for a midnight stroll to a rundown train yard where only two of the three come away unscathed, at least physically, then this book is for you. However, it isn’t all that you believe it to be. Those little girls are not all that you believe them to be.
It was supposed to be just a typical sleepover with friends, movies, junk food, and girl talk. But when they decide to take a nightly walk to the desolate train yard just outside the small town of Pitch, Iowa things go in a direction that none of them expected. Later, while a woman was out walking her dog that same night, she came across Cora badly beaten on the tracks with no other soul around. Soon after Cora is found, Violet walks out of the tall weeds in a daze, covered in blood, and holding the same knife that was used to stab Cora. Jordyn was found back at home, admitting nothing.
Why would anyone want to hurt a little girl as sweet and quiet as Cora? This was the question flying around the tiny town that everyone wanted the answer to, most of all her family. Cora’s sister, Kendall, felt responsible, Violet is covered in Cora’s blood and holding the knife that was used to stab her but wasn’t talking, and Jordyn wasn’t making things any easier as she told everyone that she had left the train yard shortly after arriving with Cora and Violet. But there were plenty of others that looked just as guilty of the crime but no answers were being found.
A list of Heather Gudenkauf’s books can be found on her site here – Book List