Employees at Wakefield High School library in Arlington, Virginia recently received an unexpected surprise—in the form of a 1972 novel. The book, The Underside of the Leaf, had been missing from the shelves since 1981, when it was last checked out. 

Former student Eleanor Reed found the copy in her parents’ attic and sent it back to the school with an anonymous note, only revealing herself after reading about the librarian’s response to the donation in the newspaper.

While an underclassman in high school, she had borrowed the text and neglected to return it when her family moved to Germany after her sophomore year. Somehow, the work of fiction (which Reed dubbed “a terrible story”) managed to stay in her parents’ book collection for 34 years and she rediscovered it while cleaning this summer. 

And yes, this was a case of better late than never: Reed didn’t have to pay an overdue book fee!

[h/t: Washington Post]