I Think I Need A Manual For Reading How Not To Disappear

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
  • Rape
  • Mental Illness
  • Domestic Violence
  • Racism
  • LBGT
  • Sexism
  • Suicide
Yeah, me too.

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.

Just casually writing about teen pregnancy. Nothing to see here. Move on.

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.

I definitely need to watch this movie.

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.


Goodreads   /   Book Depository

Rating: 2/5


21 thoughts on “I Think I Need A Manual For Reading How Not To Disappear

  1. I can’t believe there are so many topics brought up in this book. I would also be taken aback by this and enjoy the book less. It’s such a pity because the synopsis sounds like the premise of a really great book! I guess not all books are executed as well as they could have been from their potential. This is a great review! 🙂


  2. Shame it was a little cluttered! But to be honest, I’m not a fan of books that try too hard to be IMPORTANT- they usually feel like they’re trying too hard- and this sounds like it’s cramming in lots of issues just for that purpose- not sure I’d like it :/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wait. It’s POSSIBLE to have so many issues in one book?! Are you sure it’s not The Encyclopedia for Every Single Thing That’s Wrong in This Universe minus a universal war with the world plagued by diseased mosquitoes and a meteor destined to collide with the Earth?? This explains why it’s called How to Not Disappear. I would actually REALLY appreciate a book called How TO Disappear in class. IT WOULD BE SO HELPFUL. #imawkward ALL THE CHEMISTRY PUNS THAT I THINK ARE HILARIOUS – at least my teacher laughs. (And someone shouts out a “LAMEEE”.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, it just looks too happy.
        SO this book we’ve been looking for – I’ve found it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8105981-how-to-disappear Just read the blurb. Reading the comments I’m kind of confused as to whether it’s a legit thing or a joke?? If I could disappear at school I’d lead a great life. Sidenote: I went to the bookstore today and cried for all the books I couldn’t have and BOOKSTORES SMELL SO GOOD IT SHOULD BECOME A FRAGRANCE. It smells like fresh books. (Which my brain tries to destroy by telling me that it’s the scent of dead trees. 😦 )

        ALSO I couldn’t help but notice that there was a “Don’t click here” page and uh, because of the part-time rebellious teen I am, I NATURALLY and impulsively clicked on it. (I’m actually not prying soooooooooo don’t mind me.) But I was disappointed that it didn’t lead me into the magical land of Red London or anything. So I just thought that was particularly sketchy. 😛 Sketchy because I can’t draw!!!! (Bad nonsensical pun. Apologies. I mean I can kinda draw but not like draw DRAW, you know? Okay, I should stop. Back to the DRAWING BOARD. AHAHA I’M HILARIOUS SOMEONE GIVE ME A CUPCAKE WITH A GOLD STAR. Or a book on how to disappear.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. (Btw, if you don’t change the name of the page, I’m gonna keep clicking it every time I come on this blog just because I just can’t resist the urge to instinctively- ok you get the point. I’m not saying you SHOULD change it at all or anything but I just thought that that was hilarious. XD I should really stop.)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. HA. I was wondering whether anybody would click it. It’s actually going to be my “About” page, but it’s currently a WIP in I just wondered if anybody would actually click it if I told you NOT to click it. It actually got quite popular XD

            Also I THINK that book is legit but it sounds dodgy.

            Also, you can get bookstore fragrance in a candle: http://www.frostbeardstudio.com/products/bookstore-candle. Have you never heard of FrostBeard? I hear their book candles smell nice but I’ve never bought one myself so I can’t tell you exactly.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m actually quite disappointed that it’s not there anymore JUST so I can keep clicking it every time I visit your blog. (Which is practically every day of my life. I’m like WHEN IS THE NEXT POST. sOMeBody HELp me PLeaSe.) How can you just leave a tab that says DON’T CLICK and have people NOT click it?!! It’s like WAY too difficult. 😛 Also, YOU FINALLY HAVE AN ABOUT PAGE!!! WHOOOOOOOO…

              Dodgy it definitely is. Like what do people base their research on anyway???

              Oh yeaaaaaaaaaaa, I’ve heard of those candles. I’ve got the FromThePage candle samplers and they’re pretty good! I kind of have a candle fetish but my mom restricts my candle buying… hehe. I’d probably send you and every other blogger a candle if they were down a notch in prices, if I won the lottery, and if STUPID SHIPPING PRICES WEREN’T SO JELLYBEANING HIGH. Honestly, I go buy something on Etsy but the shipping cost is literally more than the product. WHYYYYY.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while now, but after seeing Cait’s review and now yours Paul, I’m a little reluctant and will definitely go into this one knowing how busy the storyline is. I usually can’t find that emotional connection and end up reading with a cool kind of detachment. Sadly it’s so busy that you never get a real sense of who the characters are. I really enjoyed Year of The Rat which hurt my heart, but this is a touch too busy for me sadly. Awesome review Paul, loved it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kelly! Cait described it as being “disengaged” for the whole novel, which is a perfect way of putting it. Be wary of how much is going on, but at the same time, you might not even get through the first 100 pages because of how little is going on at the start. I’ve heard great reviews for the Year of the Rat, so I definitely need to get around to that soon.


  5. I haven’t read this book but even reading your review makes me wonder why they tried to pack so much into it. All great topics to write about and discuss but not all at once. Great review.


  6. Cait @ Paper Fury

    YUP. I didn’t like it either. XD Far too much going on and I also felt really unengaged because of that? And I can only guess that dementia affects people very very differently, because my grandma had it and it was NOTHING like in this book. :O But I’m not saying this book got it wrong or anything, because there’s more than one strain of dementia and all that, right? Annnnyway, I’m rambling. I do think it wasn’t a very “YA feeling” book, for some reason. Like it felt like it wanted to be an adult book but was pretending to be YA. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, “unengaged” is definitely the word I’ve been looking for. I can only compare with Still Alice (which I definitely think you should read because if you don’t I will whack you over the head with a HARDCOVER copy of it), which is written by a neurosurgeon/neuroscientist (can’t remember which one), so I’m only assuming she knows her stuff. SERIOUSLY, READ IT, CAIT. IT WILL SHATTER YOUR HEART INTO A GAZILLION TINY LITTLE PIECES. (Damn, I just raised your expectations a lot now.)

      Liked by 1 person

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