About The Book

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Missing Girls—the gripping story of a journalist who sets out to find her missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all. “Think: Luckiest Girl Alive, The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl” (TheSkimm).

When Leah Stevens’ career implodes, a chance meeting with her old friend Emmy Grey offers her the perfect opportunity to start over. Emmy, just out of a bad relationship, convinces Leah to come live with her in rural Pennsylvania, where there are teaching positions available and no one knows Leah’s past.

Or Emmy’s.

When the town sees a spate of vicious crimes and Emmy Grey disappears, Leah begins to realize how very little she knows about her friend and roommate. Unable to find friends, family, a paper trail or a digital footprint, the police question whether Emmy Grey existed at all. And mark Leah as a prime suspect.

Fighting the doubts of the police and her own sanity, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Megan Miranda delivers a deep, dark and twisty novel just as thrilling as her New York Times bestseller All the Missing Girls.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Perfect Stranger includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

After a controversial journalistic decision compromises her reputation, relationship, and career, Leah Stevens leaves her life in Boston behind and moves to Pennsylvania with an old roommate, Emmy Grey. Eager to start fresh, she abandons her reporting work and gets a job teaching at a local school, but trouble soon follows when mysterious emails begin to arrive; a young woman who resembles her is found mortally injured nearby; and Emmy disappears without a trace. As the investigation picks up—along with a fiery relationship with the case’s lead investigator—Leah falls under suspicion when it becomes doubtful that Emmy Grey ever existed at all. To prove her innocence and reveal the truth that will set her free, Leah must revisit her past and all she had hoped to escape in order to determine how well she really knows herself and those around her. Fast-paced and haunting, The Perfect Stranger barrels forward with explosive momentum, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the story reaches its shocking conclusion.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Evaluate the opening of the book. How does the author use the Prologue to set up the story, foreshadow, and create an immediate sense of suspense? How do elements of the setting contribute to an air of uncertainty and unease? What themes or motifs are introduced in this section?

2. Who narrates the story and why do you think the author chose this narrator particularly? How did the choice of narrator influence or shape your reaction to the story? Would you say that the narrator is a reliable narrator? Why or why not? How did your assessment of the narrator change as the story progressed, and what caused these changes?

3. Why did Leah decide to leave Boston? What was her controversial article about, and why was it considered problematic? What rule or rules of journalism was Leah accused of breaking?

4. In Chapter 7, Leah says: “I had long believed that life was not linear but cyclical. It was the way news stories worked, and history” (page 57). What does she mean by this? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?

5. Consider the theme of trust—or mistrust. Would you say that the characters in the novel are very trusting of one another or very mistrustful? What does trust seem to be built upon? Alternatively, what erodes the characters’ trust in one another? What does the novel ultimately seem to suggest about trust?

6. Mitch believes that the local crime is due to the population doubling in size and the presence of outsiders, but what does the book suggest is more threatening—the unfamiliar or the familiar? Discuss.

7. What does Leah say is “the desire of all mankind” when it comes to stories? What, in her opinion, do people demand, and how does this influence the judgments and assessments people make when faced with a mystery or the unknown? Where do we find examples of this in the text?

8. Explore the theme of truth. Does the book ultimately indicate how one can discern what is true and what is not? Leah believes that truth always rises to the surface like bubbles in a pot of boiling water. Do you agree with her? Explain.

9. Leah believes that she has relocated to a place filled with people who share at least one thing in common with her. What does she believe is the commonality? What same commonality do Leah and Kyle share?

10. Do readers ever learn who the unnamed source was in Leah’s article? Why did Leah protect their identity? In the final confrontation of the novel, why does Leah go on her own even though it endangers her? Who does Leah believe she owed it to?

11. Leah’s mother believes that her daughter uses her talents to give a voice to the voiceless. Discuss the concept of the anonymous or voiceless victim that recurs throughout the novel. Who are these victims, and what do they share in common? Why, for instance, does Leah believe that no one will pay attention to the ultimate fate of Bethany? How did Leah believe people would react if something happened to her or any other person staying at a motel?

12. At the start of the story Leah believed that fate had brought her and Emmy back together after several years apart, but as the story progresses Leah’s point of view shifts and she says: “Things come back around because we go looking for them. That’s why they seem to pop back up over and over, like fate” (page 302). Does the novel ultimately support or refute the idea of fate? Discuss.

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Consider how the book treats the subject of the relationship between suspicion and false assumptions. What is a false assumption or assessment that you have made about someone else in your own life and what led you to make it? How did you come to realize that your assumption was wrong, and what did this teach you about judgment?

2. Compare The Perfect Stranger to another psychological thriller such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train. How do the authors build suspense throughout the story? How do the stories meet or defy your expectations as a reader? Discuss what the books have in common including any shared themes.

3. Visit Megan Miranda’s website at www.meganmiranda.com to learn more about her and her other works, including All the Missing Girls, The Safest Lies, Fracture, Hysteria, Vengeance, and Soulprint.

About The Author

Photograph by Christine Watley Photography

Megan Miranda is the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls. She has also written several books for young adults, including FractureHysteriaVengeanceSoulprint, and The Safest Lies. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. The Perfect Stranger is her second novel of psychological suspense and The Last House Guest is the latest. Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter, or visit MeganMiranda.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 2017)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501108013

Raves and Reviews

Praise for THE PERFECT STRANGER

"YA author Miranda, who moved into the adult market with All the Missing Girls, proves she isn’t a one-hit wonder with this exciting thriller. Its twisty tale with many layers—a little romance, great writing, and an awesome story line—will keep psychological suspense fans turning the pages."
—Library Journal

"Solid plot... An entertaining read."
—Kirkus Reviews

Praise for ALL THE MISSING GIRLS

***A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER***

New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice"

"This thriller’s all of your fav page-turners (think: Luckiest Girl AliveThe Girl on the TrainGone Girl) rolled into one."
—theSkimm

"Both [Gillian] Flynn’s and Miranda’s main characters also reclaim the right of female characters to be more than victim or femme fatale… All the Missing Girls is set to become one of the best books of 2016."
Los Angeles Review of Books

"Extremely interesting… A novel that will probably be called Hitchcockian."
The New York Times Book Review

"Are you paying attention? You'll need to be; this thriller will test your brain with its reverse chronological structure, and it's a page-turner to boot."
—ELLE.COM

"Intricately plotted… Ms. Miranda brings heightened suspense and a twist to this familiar scenario by telling the story, which unfolds over 15 days, in reverse chronological order."
The New York Times 
 
"Fast-paced and frightening, All the Missing Girls will teach you why it's dangerous to go into the woods alone at night."
Refinery29

"All the Missing Girls is the archetypal murder mystery, the kind it seems like everyone has been hungry for since Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Paula Hawkins's Girl on the Train."
—Cosmopolitan.com

"A new spin on a classic 'missing person' thriller, All the Missing Girls is the perfect read for thriller fans."
—Bustle.com

"A twisty, compulsive read—I loved it."
—Ruth Ware, author of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10

"Fiendishly plotted."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Darkly nostalgic.... Miranda takes a risk by telling the story backward, but it pays off with an undroppable thriller, plenty of romantic suspense, and a fresh take on the decades-old teenage-murder theme."
Booklist

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Megan Miranda