MLA Gold Award Site

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
  • 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?

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!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Tomorrow's Parties
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Never-Open Desert Diner
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
  • Book Jacket: The Vanishing Velazquez
    The Vanishing Velazquez
    by Laura Cumming
    Author Laura Cumming spins out a tale of obsession and ruin in her latest book, The Vanishing Vel&#...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Alaskan Laundry
    by Brendan Jones

    A fresh debut novel about a young woman who moves to Alaska and finds herself through the hard work of fishing.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H Now B C?

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.