How Not To Disappear
Simon & Schuster Australia
Our memories are what make us who we are. Some are real. Some are made up. But they are the stories that tell us who we are. Without them we are nobody.
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 is 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 even knew 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 erased from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.
Non Pratt’s Trouble meets Thelma and Louise with a touch of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Clare Furniss’ remarkable How Not To Disappear is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and break your heart.
This is an engaging read, at time hilarious, at times poignant and heartbreaking – it may sound like I am describing a modern YA romance but this book is so much more than that. It is a coming of age story, a story of the circle of life – and in particular focusses on end of life/beginning of life, relationship and dementia. But it is also about memory and identity, prejudice, love, family, assumptions, domestic violence and unplanned pregnancy…this narrative discusses so many issues you will wonder how the author managed to weave them all into a totally engaging and meaningful story. I enjoyed every moment of this – so much so I had a tear in my eye at its end.
In the acknowledgments Clare Furniss gives “heartfelt thanks” to the many friends, family and colleagues who “made the writing of this book possible in so many ways, from proofreading, and advising on historical details to child-minding and …support.”(p.407)
I would like to give my heart think thanks to Clare Furniss for:
- Writing diverse characters – with flaws, with temperaments, with histories, with dignity, with life experiences – the good and the bad.
- Writing empathetically about aging and dementia.
- Writing a complex narrative with so many social issues woven into its fabric – book clubs take heed – this book will suit your purposes very well.
- Writing strong female protagonists – I loved then all – Gloria, Hattie, Kat, Edie, Alice, Hattie’s mum….
- For not taking the easy way out and letting the car accident resolve the “problem” – no spoilers here.
- For exploring and revealing the intricacies and diversity of relationships, the give and take, the abuse of.
- For allowing Hattie to determine her own future.
- For writing a wonderful mystery with twists and turns that you won’t anticipate.
- For not sugar coating
- For the dual story line/dual time lines – I loved the social commentary, the social history.
- For writing a narrative that a fifteen year old or a fifty year old can enjoy.
- For giving me a most enjoyable and entertaining evenings read.
It sounds as though this one goes much, much deeper than the ‘coming of age’ novels we so often see. And one of the things that really struck me is that she pays the reader the respect of not sugar-coating the messiness of life.
yes I liked that too Margot – it would have been so easy to neatly wrap up a few issues but instead the author chose a more authentic and interesting path. This is not just a YA read.
I’ve got this and really didn’t know what it was about to pushed it to the side, but I think I should get it out cos I think I’d enjoy it!
I heard about this long before I read it – and it was all good news. I really enjoyed it Deb – I hope you do to.
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