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  • Writer's pictureDesiree Gutierrez

Book Review: The Girl In the Leaves

“The Girl In The Leaves”, is a true crime book based off of Sarah Maynard’s experience regarding her kidnapping and murder of her family. This took place in Apple Valley, Ohio during 2010. Sarah was raised by her parents, Tina and Larry Maynard, she was also an older sister to her brother Kody. As the children continued to grow, Tina and Larry would later separate due to his work habits that kept him away for long periods of time. Eventually, Tina picked up a job to take care of the kids and would later go house hunting with her best friend Stephanie Sprang. Meanwhile, the neighborhood “weirdo,” Matthew Hoffman would continuously stalk the family.

Matthew Hoffman actually had a criminal past and was found guilty of arson, which he later served in prison. During his time in prison, he would write letters to the judge for an earlier release date. He was later granted to be released from prison and quickly resumed his odd behaviors. This book does a great job at maintaining the two separate stories of the Maynard family and Hoffman, including how their lives collide. The day of the kidnapping, Hoffman snuck in through the broken garage door, killing both Tina and Stephanie who were supposed to go house hunting later that evening. Once the children came back from school that is when they noticed something was not right. Kody was the one who spotted Hoffman inside the house and unfortunately was also killed by knife wounds to the head. Inside the actual book, the author provides a more detailed experience to the point where it could be a little nauseating.

Ultimately, for some sick reason Hoffman stated he could not murder Sarah but instead kidnapped her. She was forced to endure cruelty and even required to lay on her family’s dismembered bodies. The book did not hold back when it came time to describe how the bodies had been dismembered and how Hoffman took individual times with them. What really bothered me about this horrific story was the fact that Hoffman would refuse to tell authorities where he had placed them. Sarah was lucky being treated for her multiple health issues and pictures inside the book showed where he held her captive. The book title was inspired by the pile of leaves she was forced to lay on by Hoffman’s delusions. Thankfully, the book did include the justice that this family desperately needed. Authorities were able to find the bodies inside of a tree and later the community held vigils for them.

Image Courtesy of Wiki Meida commons

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