Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach
Opening Line: You disappeared on a school night. Nobody was more surprised by this than me.
The book Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance sort of took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. That being said, I’ve always really liked books that are written in the second person. There’s something very intimate about the way it’s written. Every time I read the phrase, “you are” I think who, me? I’ve always loved it. Another notable one that utilizes this is Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, which also tells the story of sisters.
The main character of this book are younger sister Sally and older sister Kathy Holt. The older sister/younger sister dynamic is one that I find fascinating since I have only ever been an older sister. I always have to wonder how accurate it is to portray younger siblings as being in awe of their older siblings, or is it all written by other siblings who feel important in their younger siblings’ lives. The introduction of Billy into the lives of the Holt sisters would prove to be the catalyst for almost every other event that happens in the book. He takes on an almost otherworldly place in Sally’s life from when she first met him.
I really liked the characters. Billy was a very good third protagonist to add to the two sisters. Since the book is told from Sally’s point of view, and Sally’s point of view is talking to Kathy, the whole book feels very centered on the two of them, and having Billy play a big part in both their lives keeps the book small and grounded. The timeline of this book also never feels rushed. It spans 2 decades and the characters grow and change a lot, but I never felt like I was missing important information. It was a statement in itself that certain events occurred (don’t want to spoil anything) and then the Holt family sort of becomes stagnant. By skipping forward 3-4 years, readers aren’t missing anything important at all.
There are a few other characters that mainly stay to the edges of the book. Ones that I remembered the names of, but couldn’t remember anything else of note. Sometimes I find that annoying. When authors can’t be bothered to flesh out characters that exist in the world just like everyone else. But in this book I had a much easier time believing that Sally just didn’t know as much about the other people around her. I completely bought that she was so wrapped up in her sister, and Billy, that it didn’t really cross her mind to learn a ton of other things about her classmates and casual friends.
There was one part at the end where the book started to lose me, and I found myself looking at the twenty or so last pages and thinking this is it, the last twenty pages is going to determine whether I love or hate this book, and luckily, it’s one that I love. There is a shift that happens in the storytelling. The narrative tools change and I found it very creative and exciting to read. Not too sad or depressing, this book is definitely one that I will want to read again in the future.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Review by Catherine Nevin
This book is available to Friend Memorial Library patrons.
Cover photo taken from goodreads.com