The Real Michael Swann

The Real Michael Swann

by Bryan Reardon


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“A twisting, heart-wrenching journey into a marriage, a gripping thriller . . . Reardon grabs his readers on page one, then deftly ratchets up the suspense until the breathless ending.”—Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author

Julia Swann, mother of two young boys, is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly cuts out. It isn’t until later in the evening when she discovers that something terrible has happened at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home.  

Julia races to New York City to look for Michael, her panicked searching interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she’s now desperate to find. When someone finds a flyer she’s posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her prayers seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered. Did Michael survive? If so, why hasn’t he contacted her? Was he—or is he still—the man she fell in love with?  

Part family drama, part tragic love story, The Real Michael Swann is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable—both in our country and in our own homes.

“Reardon masterfully delivers an intimate, heartbreaking portrayal of a family whose love, trust, and loyalty for each other is put to the ultimate test.”—Rhiannon Navin, author of Only Child

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524742324
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Bryan Reardon is the author of Finding Jake and The Real Michael Swann. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the State of Delaware for more than a decade, starting in the office of the governor. He holds a degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife and kids.

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "The Real Michael Swann"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Bryan Reardon.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

1.) Describe the progression of Michael and Julia’s marriage. How compatible were they in the beginning versus during the events of the book? How did their personalities develop as they journeyed through marriage?

2.) When Julia lies to her children by pretending to speak to Michael on the phone, it is an earth-shattering moment for her. Explain her decision to do so and whether the aftermath was justified.

3.) What do you think of Julia’s ambitions when she was younger versus her decision to become a stay-at-home mom? How do you feel about her actions? What would you have done in her place, anything similar or different?

4.) Julia defines trust as: “It was the moment they fell in love. But there was something else, too. Something that bound him to her even more deeply. As they came together as one, both before and after, she remembered this feeling. It was like the world around her shrunk. The night pushed away. She felt so safe, but it was something more. Years later, after their two kids were born, she put a word to it. She never quite knew if it was exactly right or not. But the word was trust.” How do you define trust? What do you think of Julia’s definition?

5.) Julia goes through an incredibly harrowing experience, and at first, it seems like her friends are supportive. How did you feel about their behavior toward her? Was it realistic? Have you ever had life experiences that tested your friendships?

6.) From the threat of terrorism to layoffs and job losses, how do you think The Real Michael Swann addresses the state of American life today?

7.) How did the beginning of the novel shape your expectations for the ending? What surprised you most?

8.) Julia goes from watching the news to being the news, which exacerbates her feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. How do the news reports affect Julia’s behavior? How do you think our relationship to the media changes our perception of current events?

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