Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

Title: How Not To Disappear
Author: Clare Furniss
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

How Not To Disappear
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…...
A largely enjoyable read featuring some pretty heavy topics such as teen pregnancy, society's attitude to pregnancy outside of wedlock, abortion, dementia, the break-down of family units - pretty serious and depressing stuff. Going into it, I didn't realise quite how depressing the story was and I thought it was going to be more of a comedy and a light summery read. There are funny bits here and there but the overall tone of the book was pretty heavy. The POVs go back and forth between Hattie and her great aunt Gloria's memories, which I really liked.

Gloria in particular was a great character, she liked her booze, high heels, and just had the 'I don't give a fig' attitude which I find highly entertaining in an elderly character. Her secret though was just slightly underwhelming and easy to guess. As for the rest of the secondary characters, they all felt very distinct and full of personality which was great. I particularly liked reading about what Reuben's problems were and Hattie's extremely relatable family dynamic.

I would say that overall this book is a pretty average read, I liked it and it was enjoyable. It just lacked that special something to really make it memorable for me. The ending felt a bit rushed and I felt like a little more elaboration of Hattie's life after she made her critical decision was needed. It just was a bit too... happy. Which is a weird thing to say but the story was full of hard-hitting topics so it would have felt more poignant to me if it had ended a little differently.

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