Two events inspired me to write THE LIFE GROUP.

First, one of my students mentioned being part of a life group. He said something about why he hadn’t done his homework–and it was completely innocent, some kind of charity work with his group–but it struck me as odd that people his own age had so much control over him. They could persuade him to engage in activities he perhaps should not be doing (blowing off homework when he’s a full-time student), and maybe even lead him down a bad path (flunking out of school). Could they convince him to do something even more dangerous?

The second event was of greater significance: one of my colleagues went missing. The vanished professor wasn’t gone long—less than a week. And good news is, she was fine. It turned out to be mental illness showing its ugly head. But the events of those five days when she couldn’t be located struck me to the core.

Later that semester, as I drove to the local daycare to pick up my kids, thoughts of my colleague swirled through my head. I remembered the gnawing feeling I had—my stomach alternating between tight clenches and high-up flips. I recalled my heart thumping as I trotted down sketchy streets in the bad part of town, looking for her apartment. In my mind’s eye I again saw my colleague’s office key sitting on the side table as if she’d been abducted and her attacker told her in a calm voice to place them there before he tied her up, gagged her, and took her away. My children’s daycare in sight, I gripped the steering wheel tighter, and then it came–the entire plot of The Life Group. It bounced straight into my head, and I knew my next book had to be about a missing person and the desperate search that followed.

About The Life Group

The Life Group
by Maura Jortner
: Lakewater Press
Publication Date: January 9th 2017
Genre: YA Thriller



Every day since her sister vanished, Rachel has visited the radical church where Leah was last seen. There are still no suspects or leads, but Rachel’s positive clues lie in that church somewhere.

Thirteen days on from Leah’s disappearance, the pastor introduces Rachel to Tim, a devout worshiper of his Lord. To avoid dealing with his own demons, he agrees to spend the day helping Rachel search for her sister.

It’s Saturday, March 14. Maybe today will be the day. Maybe today Rachel will be reunited with Leah. Or maybe today will change Rachel’s life forever.

For fans of GONE GIRL, this gripping Young Adult thriller will keep you guessing until its explosive climax.

‘…a truly original storyline and taut pacing that pulls the reader relentlessly toward the devastating conclusion.’ USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Stormes Hawker

‘Teens and adults alike will devour this rollercoaster story…’ Emily Bleeker, author of WRECKAGE and WHEN I’M GONE



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About the Author

Maura Jortner grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Waco, Texas with her patient husband, two amazing daughters, and one unruly cat. She teaches literature and writing classes at Baylor University. A lifetime ago, she used to direct plays and put on puppet shows for kids, which led to a Ph.D. in Theatre History. Currently, when Maura’s not writing, she’s spending her time like every native-born Texan: worrying about how many chiggers might be hidden in the grass outside her house or if she put enough sunscreen on her kids.

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