Friday, 5 February 2016

'How Not to Disappear' Sets the Bar for YA in 2016

'How Not to Disappear' by Clare Furniss
Review by Chris


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.


There is so much to love about this story: the relationship between Hattie and her great-aunt, the exploration of her rollercoaster relationship with her best friend Reuben, how she grows, develops and deals with her pregnancy, the physical journey (echoed in the mental and emotional journeys Hattie and Gloria undergo) and Hattie's twin siblings. And Gloria - let's not forget Gloria and her gin slings.
At first, I found the story to be a little bit slow but once it gets going, once Hattie meets Gloria, the story really begins and the characters jump off the page with so much life and warmth. I don't want to divulge too much but there's plenty in here with the pregnancy, Gloria's story and Hattie's only family. If you're going to pick up one YA book this Spring, make it How Not to Disappear.
Furniss played my heartstrings; at times, with a bow but more often, with a hacksaw. I'll never be the same again. I can't recommend this story enough. Comfortably falling into the category of #diverseYA (for its exploration of mental health and the often under-represented third generation-first generation relationship among other issues), this story will emotionally sucker-punch you over and over again and it's chock full of compelling characters. If Furniss was worried about one-off success (with The Year of the Rat), she need not fear; How Not to Disappear is, without doubt, a 2016 YA highlight.

Rating: 5/5 Stars  ★ ★ ★ ★
Christopher Moore:
Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog and is best known as the YAblooker. He is a twenty-five year old book blogger who has previously worked in marketing and consumer insight for various publishing houses and writes in his spare time. He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

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