Note: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Simon and Schuster!
I am not a fan of this book and for a few reasons. Let me explain.
How Not to Disappear initially looks like an innocent cute YA book with a little bit of teenage angst and some tears over a break up. I mean, just look at that cover. All those bright colours and cartoon stars. I had no idea that I would be plunging into themes such as:
- Teen Pregnancy
- Mental Illness
- Domestic Violence
I understood that all these mature themes should probably make this book a really important read, and one that would open up your eyes to a lot of different social issues.
But for me, this is exactly where the book fell short. There is too much going on. Not once in this book could I focus on one social issue and think about it, because no sooner had the book touched on LGBT, it had rabbited (is that even a word? Meh) away to dementia and mental illness. It was 1) confusing, 2) annoying, 3) difficult to read and 4) it just made the book really messy and cluttered. At times, it felt almost frantic, because there were so many things going on and so little space to write it in.
Having said that “it felt frantic at times”, the book was still very, very slow to get off the ground. At the start, there were way too many scenes that went on for too long, and it felt as if the book was simply stalling. I seriously struggled to get through the first 100 pages of this book, but thankfully, it started moving with a little more energy soon after.
But that’s not to say that How Not To Disappear didn’t have its perks. The characters were really well developed, and I quite enjoyed following the adventure that Hattie and Gloria had.
There were also few characters that I really, really disliked, and of course, that only goes to show how real the characters felt, and how well they were written!
So while I found the themes in How Not To Disappear a little too chaotic, and the pacing wildly erratic, I still rather enjoyed reading about the characters.
Before I leave, I’d also like to commend the author for writing an accurate portrayal of dementia, and Alzheimer’s. If you’d like a further read on dementia, I really recommend Still Alice, which was absolutely heart shattering. Seriously. It’s one of those books where you finish it and just sit there watching people go about with their daily lives and wonder how they can act like nothing’s happened when you’ve been ripped apart inside. I have to get around to watching the movie as well; it won a few Oscars, I think.
Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to “find himself” and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding.
Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby…
Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia.
Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.