Billie is vibrant—a beautiful, outdoorsy California mom, a far cry from the reckless youth she’d been, but her troubled past seems only to enhance her natural charisma and allure. She and her husband Jonathan have an enviable life - a great house in Berkeley, a lovely, sensitive daughter, friends, nice things. As their daughter Olive reaches adolescence and needs her mom less, Billie throws herself into extreme sports—marathons, scuba diving, rock climbing. These challenges make her feel alive, but one day, on a solo hike in the Desolation Wilderness, she vanishes from the trail—no body, only a hiking boot, is found. Her family is devastated. Jonathan drinks; Olive grows remote. But a year after Billie’s death, Olive starts having waking dreams—hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he uncovers a secret that sends him on his own quest for the truth—about Billie, their marriage, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.
Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau
** I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**
Almost a year had passed since Jonathan and Olive lost their beloved Billie. She went hiking alone and when she didn't return home a week long search indicated that she probably died in the woods even though a body was never recovered. Jonathan was struggling to get a death certificate and parent his teenage daughter Olive.
One day at school Olive got a strange vision that had her believing that her mother was alive and that she needed to find her. As events played out and different things were discovered, she was able to convince her father of the possibility as well.
Sound good? I thought so!
I had to let a little time go by to think about this book before I wrote my thoughts on it. I wasn't one hundred percent certain of how I felt about it. Let me try and break it down.
The family aspect of this book was thoroughly enjoyable. It showed how a broken family worked their way through hard times in order to achieve the kind of relationship that they both desired. They struggled a lot but you could feel the progression of their relationship as the story unfolded. I believe at the heart of this book although it was technically a mystery, there was a beautiful family drama. From Jonathan's use of alcohol and his lack of money management to Olive's struggle to know who she really was, it was a joy to watch them grow.
Was Billie really dead or was she alive? If so, what happened to her? These were the questions that kept me reading in order to find answers. More things were discovered about Billie as each page was turned. She wasn't the person that Jonathan had always thought she was. In fact, he found himself angry at the person that he thought was the love of his life. So this is where I had to take pause. I had some early guesses as to how it would play out. Unfortunately for me it played out exactly how I thought it would, to the very last page, which took a bit of the excitement and shock value out of it for me. I was trying to decide if I made some really good guesses or if the plot was that transparent to everyone. This was partly why I couldn't decide how I felt about the book. On top of that, Olive's visions felt slightly out of place in the grand scheme of things and didn't really make the most sense when it came to the final outcome of the book.
In the end I felt like Watch Me Disappear was a good and enjoyable read even though I had it figured out early. I don't think it was that easy to figure out and I just had some lucky guesses. Besides, the evolution of Jonathan and Olive's relationship was enough to keep me engaged anyway. I will definitely be watching for more work from this author.
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