The mountain lion came out of nowhere, grabbed a little girl by the head, and they were gone. Out of the Lion's Den is the true story of five-year-old Laura Small's attack in Orange County, California park. But it is not only the story of Laura's long recovery from brain injuries. Her parents soon realized that the attack wasn't just the result of the lone mountain lion. Early morning anonymous phone calls, erasures on police reports, and a California moratorium on killing lions led a persistent investigator and a brilliant lawyer all the way to a trial against Orange County for negligence. And for Laura's mother, who believed in God and had been a nun for six years, one question still haunted her. How could a loving God allows such suffering?
“This book is about hope in the face of the seemingly insurmountable and very powerful systems (political, social, and economic). It is a David and Goliath story.”
Out of the Lion's Den is a gripping true story that reads like expertly crafted fiction. The lion attack is only the beginning. This is a story filled with legal drama, emotional setbacks, public outcry and personal catharsis, along with a cast of characters who seamlessly moves the story along. The bones alone of Susan Mattern's book are interesting enough to keep readers engaged, but she digs even deeper, taking us into the heart of a riveting story from a parental perspective that is uniquely her own. Even if you already think you know the ending, you won't be able to put the book down.
My book arrived two days ago and I finished it today. I heard about this tragedy when it happened and have often wondered over the years what became of little Laura, so close to the age of my own daughters. I spent four years in high school and four years in college with Sue. It was such a gift to reacquaint myself with the brilliant mind and beautiful soul of this loving, devoted mother. The book is well-written, heartfelt, and honest.
Susan Mattern has written an amazing memoir of her five-year-old daughter's attack by a mountain lion in an Orange County park, her daughter's near miraculous recovery, and the ensuing legal battle to hold county park officials accountsble for negligence.
For a story of the indomitable human spirit for survival, hope against all odds and an indefatigable determination to see justice done, few books have done justice to one of these human dramas. Mattern manages all three in a relentless narrative of emotions lived on the edge.
This book grabbed me from the first page and never let go. Like many others, I read about the lion attack in the papers. Years later, I had the opportunity to work with Sue and get to know her family and her talented daughter, Laura. Although we talked about that tragic day, I had no idea of what really took place afterwards and in the following years. Sue has written a beautiful and riveting account of Laura's tragedy and her family's emotions and losses in the following years, all while struggling with her own questions of her faith in God. This book reads like a novel, but we know every word is true. It teaches us a valuable lesson that although holding a hand may not be enough, love of family and a network of support can pull us through the worst of experiences.