When She Comes Back

About the Book

𝙒𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙎𝙝𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝘽𝙖𝙘𝙠 is a coming-of-age memoir set in the 70s and 80s about losing my mother to a guru in India, giving up power, growing up too fast, and what happens when the person your life revolves around can’t stay. Ronit was six years old when her mother left her and her four-year-old sister for India to follow a cult guru at the center of Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on U.S. soil, preached that children were hindrances and encouraged sterilizations among his followers. Luckily Ronit’s father, who’d left the family the previous year, stepped up and brought the girls to live with him first in Newark, New Jersey, and later in Flushing, Queens. On the surface, his nurturing was the balm Ronit sought, but she soon paid a second emotional price, taking on the role of partner and confidant to him, and substitute mother to her sister. By the end of her childhood, Ronit would discover she had lost her mother and the close and trusting relationship she once had with her father. Though they have had a relationship now for years, she grappled with the toll her mother’s leaving took, measuring her self-worth by her absence.

When She Comes Back is the story of a family trying to find itself, grownups who don’t know how to be adults, and the pain a child feels when she discovers that her love for her mother is not enough to make that parent stay. When She Comes Back is also a story of resilience and reconciliation, how rejection by the most important person in Ronit’s life ultimately led to an unflagging commitment to, and love for her own children.

Some Background on My Story

My essay Beyond the Spectacle of Wild Wild Country (The Atlantic)

My essay I Can’t Shake the Guru Bhagwan (THE RUMPUS TOP 20 OF 2018)

Awards for When She Comes Back

Finalist: 2022 Housatonic Book Awards at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA in Creative and Professional Writing
Finalist: 2021 Best Book Awards for Autobiography/Memoir, American Book Fest
Finalist: 2021 International Book Awards, Autobiography/Memoir
Finalist: 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards, Memoir
Finalist: 2021 Book of the Year Awards for Memoir, Independent Author Network

“An intimate, intuitive, emotionally vivid account that finds hope in reconciliation.” -Kirkus Reviews

“A Best True Crime Book of 2021” -Book Riot

“Three Powerful Memoirs from Underground Authors Booklovers Should Read” -Gutsy Creatives

“One of the Best Memoirs You’ve Never Heard of” -Book Riot

Purchase a Copy of When She Comes Back

When She Comes Back is available in audio, print, and Kindle.

You can order When She Comes Back here or wherever you purchase books.

Praise For When She Comes Back!

“Oh, how I loved this heartbreaking, transfixing coming of age tale! A pitch-perfect, novelistic depiction of a childhood cut short by instability and loss, When She Comes Back reminded me of Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle. But Plank’s voice is purely her own, aced with humor and underpinned by deep, hard-won wisdom and self-knowledge. I loved it and you will, too.”

Joanna Rakoff, My Salinger Year

“This captivating memoir draws the readers into the altered reality of cult life, and what happens to those left behind. When young Ronit’s mother left her family for “guru” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose followers were later responsible for a major US terrorist attack, she was left to navigate her own emotional growth and her concept of motherhood, without a guiding influence. The compelling, raw story will leave you thinking about Ronit long after the book is done.”

Allison K. Williams, Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book

“This memoir touched my heart in an incredibly powerful way. A reminder that we all are shaped by the experiences of our childhood. My heart ached for a young Ronit and the absence of her mother…I highly recommend this coming-of-age piece that reminds us of resiliency and the bonds of family (for better or worse).” 

Jamie Gehring, Madman in the Woods

“In this fascinating coming-of-age memoir, Ronit Plank poignantly explores the resilience of a child longing for her mother and ultimately leads us along her path to reconciliation. When She Comes Back is a stunning debut.”


Jason Allen, The East End

“A beautifully written and wrenching story of abandonment and resilience, When She Comes Back grabbed me by the heart. I could not put this powerful memoir down.”

– ASPEN MATIS, Girl in the Woods

Aspen Matis, Girl in the Woods

“Plank’s story is a testament to human beings’ lasting yearning for parental connections. When She Comes Back is a captivating, empathetic, and inspiring journey into the perspectives of understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance. A gripping read!”

Allison Hong Merrill, Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops, A Memoir

“Plank’s story will feel relatable to anyone who has ever wondered if their family is “normal,” or experienced the more routine childhood trauma of divorce. Empathetic, richly detailed, and self-aware, When She Comes Back is a heartbreaking, hopeful story about loss, resilience, and growing up too soon.”

Erica C. Barnett, Quitter

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