Review: Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf


Release date: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Park Row

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town

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.


While this is could technically a be YA thriller I want to go ahead and let you know right away that it doesn’t feel like one at all. I myself struggle with YA thrillers but really the only thing that would make it fall into the category is the fact that three of the main characters are twelve year old girls. There is nothing soft about this one, nothing light about the mystery, in fact it’s hard hitting and bold. So if the idea of it being too juvenile has prevented you from reading this one, please know it’s not whatsoever!

I love when an author writes in an original structure and there was plenty of that to love here. You get multiple perspectives, everyone from parents and grandparents to the girls themselves and everyone had such a well developed and individual voice. Cora’s POV was revealed through diary entries which was such an intimate way to learn about her character and there were also transcripts from police interviews, message boards, a therapists notes and text messages that kept things so interesting.

The whole concept of this one was frighteningly timely, I loved how the author took current events and hot button topics and weaved them seamlessly into the plot. As a parent to a child almost the same age as the preteen girls I was horrified by some of the behaviors of the kids, mostly because I know it was an accurate representation of how kids can and do behave. Besides a totally gripping plot, fantastic writing and really well drawn characters, the ending of this one was a true sucker punch. It takes a lot for me to be completely surprised but I was shocked by the end of this one and so awed by the authors cleverness. Highly recommended by me for thriller fans!

Before She Was Found in three words: Timely, Sharp and Intense.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

5 thoughts on “Review: Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf

  1. Sara Strand says:

    I am so excited to get to this one myself mostly because I have a daughter who is 13 so this might scare the pants off me! 🙂 Thanks for being on the tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

    Liked by 1 person

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