Reading guide for What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

What Was Lost

A Novel

by Catherine O'Flynn

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn X
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. What drove Kate into an imaginary detective world? What sort of heroism does she fantasize about?

  2. How was Kate influenced by her father, both before and after his death? How did his approach to parenting compare to her grandmother’s?

  3. What makes Green Oaks so appealing to Kate? Why is it important for her to go where no one knows her?

  4. How did you react to the shift in point of view after Kate disappeared? How did the adults’ perceptions compare to hers?

  5. How does Lisa cope with the aftermath Kate’s disappearance has on her brother and her parents?

  6. How would you characterize Kurt and Kurt Sr.? How do the differences between Kurt and his sister, Loretta, affect their roles in the family?

  7. Discuss Green Oaks itself and the closed factory that looms in its history. What do shopping and stores such as Your Music bring to the community? How pervasive is mall culture in our society?

  8. How did your understanding of Teresa unfold? What had the dynamics between Kate and Teresa been like when they first met? How was Teresa affected by abuse once she reached adulthood?

  9. Ultimately, who was responsible for Kate’s death? Could it have been prevented?

  10. What is evoked by the top-secret detective notebook entry that forms chapter 41 in the novel? In what way do Kate’s observations in those last scenes bring her story full circle?

  11. How would you describe the relationship between Lisa’s co-workers? What do their interactions with each other and with the customers say about their personalities? Why do they stay in their jobs? How does Lisa handle the task of disciplining the volatile Steve in chapter 25? Why did Ian string Mr. Wake along for nearly two years regarding the classical-music cassette (chapter 31)?

  12. Discuss the novel’s title and its double meanings. In what way does Kate’s disappearance serve as a metaphor for the other lost souls depicted by Catherine O’Flynn (including the mall generation itself)? How did Lisa and Kurt become lost? Is their apathy indicative of their generation as a whole?
Free Book Club Report

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya

    A riveting story of dislocation, survival, and the power of stories to break or save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.