ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | What We’ve Lost Is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder

From an NPR contributor, investigative journalist, and one of Library Journal’s “outstanding new voices,” a striking debut novel that chronicles the first twenty-four hours after a mass burglary in a suburban Chicago neighborhood and the suspicions, secrets, and prejudices that surface in its wake.

One of’s “Ten Best Suspense Books”

In her striking debut novel, Rachel Louise Snyder chronicles the twenty-four hours following a mass burglary in a Chicago suburb and the suspicions, secrets, and prejudices that surface in its wake.

Nestled on the edge of Chicago’s gritty west side, Oak Park is a suburb in flux. To the west, theaters and shops frame posh houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. To the east lies a neighborhood still recovering from urban decline. In the center of the community sits Ilios Lane, a pristine cul-de-sac dotted with quiet homes that bridge the surrounding extremes of wealth and poverty.

On the first warm day in April, Mary Elizabeth McPherson, a lifelong resident of Ilios Lane, skips school with her friend Sofia. As the two experiment with a heavy dose of ecstasy in Mary Elizabeth’s dining room, a series of home invasions rocks their neighborhood. At first the community is determined to band together, but rising suspicions soon threaten to destroy the world they were attempting to create. Filtered through a vibrant pinwheel of characters, Snyder’s tour de force evokes the heightened tension of a community on edge as it builds toward one of the most explosive conclusions in recent fiction. Incisive and panoramic, What We’ve Lost is Nothing illuminates the evolving relationship between American cities and their suburbs, the hidden prejudices that can threaten a way of life, and the redemptive power of tolerance in a community torn asunder.

What People Are Saying about What We’ve Lost Is Nothing

“Veteran journalist Snyder crafts a muscular and fearless debut novel that boldly tackles the heady themes of prejudice, self-preservation, poverty and privilege. Deftly underscored by a steady drumbeat of denial and discontent, Snyder’s drama provocatively reveals the escalating tensions of a community about to implode.” — Booklist

“Snyder’s debut is smooth and engaging, and reads like the work of a veteran novelist.” — Publishers Weekly

“Rachel Louise Snyder writes with the rigorous scrutiny of an investigative journalist and the deep and roving empathy of a natural-born novelist; the result is a bold and mesmerizing exploration of daily truths we don’t talk about nearly enough: class prejudice and racism; the chasm between newly arrived immigrants and those of us who’ve been here for generations; the painful division between husbands and wives and the children they’ve made; and that razored air between what we believe and what is. What We’ve Lost is Nothing is a stellar debut by an important and necessary new voice among us.” — Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie

Publisher’s Information

  • PUBLISHER: Scribner
  • ISBN: 978-1476725178
  • DIMENSIONS: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • PAGES: 320]
  • PRICE: $16.00
  • RELEASE DATE: 01/21/2014

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Discussion Questions for What We’ve Lost Is Nothing

1. 1. The novel opens with Caz and Mary walking to Mary’s home, but only picks up the second half of their story at almost the very end of the book. How does this technique influence your reading of the rest of the novel, and your perception of the characters, especially Caz? How does this flash-forward serve to make the rest of Mary’s story all the more surprising?

2. 2. Between the novel’s epigram, the blog post comment on page 203, and the name Ilios Lane itself, the Homeric references are clearly no accident. What effect do these references have on your understanding of the story, either on the level of plot or theme?

3. 3. Contrary to most of the adults in the novel, Mary seems to think of the burglaries primarily as an opportunity, specifically to boost her “standing in the high school caste system”(p. 2). Are there other examples of opportunity arising out of loss? Do you see this phenomenon in the real world as well?

About Rachel Louise Snyder

Rachel Louise Snyder is a writer, radio commentator, and professor of creative writing at American University. The author of Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade, she has contributed regularly to NPR’s All Things Considered and she hosted the public radio series, Global Guru and Latitudes. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Salon, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the New Republic. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Boston, London, and Phnom Penh, and currently lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and daughter.

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ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone by Annelyse Gelman




Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone

by Annelyse Gelman


“Look, the future is all telepathy and disappointment and pretending we haven’t always been winging it. Every day we’re the strongest we’ll ever be. What doesn’t kill you hasn’t killed you yet.” From Greek mythology to Top 40, Pavlov to Sartre, the space station to the zoo, Annelyse Gelman’s debut collection of poems collides dark humor and unexpected sweetness.



“The instability of life, its aching craziness, is not usually met with the poise these poems show. Vulnerable yet full of spunk, Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone is startlingly delightful–or is that delightfully startling? Either way, reader, prepare yourself for a new, strange joy.”–Dean Young

“Annelyse Gelman is an extraordinary poet who is able to tear language and sense apart and deftly put it back together in her very own way. Sometimes the result is as subtle as a soft kiss to an orchid, other times everything is blown to bits by the expert loft of a hand grenade. across her amazing range, she will demand of you the same humour, intensity and intelligence. Keep this collection safe; once you have got into her voice, you won’t want poetry to be quite the same again.”–Jodie Dalgleish, curator and critic


Publisher Information

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Write Bloody Publishing (April 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938912429



gelman authorAnnelyse Gelman is a California Arts Scholar, the inaugural poet-in-residence at UCSD’s Brain Observatory, and recipient of the 2013 Mary Barnard Academy of American Poets Prize and the 2013 Lavinia Winter Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Nailed, and The Destroyer, and her debut poetry collection, Everyone I Love is a Stranger to Someone‘, is forthcoming (Write Bloody, 2014). Find her at

Once The Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing After the Suicide of My Daughter

The autobiographical confession of a counselor who lost her teen daughter to suicide. What she learned about love and forgiveness changed her life forever. It will change your life, too.

“Even though I had been a mental healthcare counselor for years, nothing could have prepared me for the suicide of my 15-year old daughter. Beautiful, smart and loving, she’d also inherited my family’s depressive gene, and had hidden her unhappiness from me. Five days before her death, she stopped taking her medication, and committed suicide in the next room while I slept. Grief combined with guilt left me shattered; devastated, numb, and incapable of functioning. Once the Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing After the Suicide of My Daughter is my story about forgiveness, grace, and moving on.”