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Watch Me Disappear: A Novel Hardcover – July 11, 2017
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“Watch Me Disappear is a surprising and compelling read. Like the best novels, it takes the reader somewhere she wouldn’t otherwise allow herself to go. . . . It’s strongest in the places that matter most: in the believability of its characters and the irresistibility of its plot.”—Chicago Tribune
“Janelle Brown’s third family drama delivers an incisive and emotional view of how grief and recovery from loss can seep into each aspect of a person’s life. . . . Brown imbues realism in each character, whose complicated emotions fuel the suspenseful story.”—Associated Press
“When a Berkeley mother vanishes and is declared dead, her daughter is convinced she’s alive in Janelle Brown’s thriller, calling to mind Big Little Lies and Gone Girl.”—Variety
“A twisty, involving mystery.”—People
“Watch Me Disappear is just as riveting as Gone Girl. . . . The characters are arresting, the Berkeley setting delightfully authentic, and, best of all, the propulsive investigation may make you want to go into hiding just to finish the book now.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Clever and compelling, this ricocheting tale reveals that, even in the closest families, how little we know of the ones we love, and how our own secrets are often the hardest to bear, can cost us dearly in the end.”—Lisa Gardner, author of Right Behind You
“Tantalizing and twisty, Watch Me Disappear is both a spider’s web of a novel and a moving exploration of the deeper mysteries of marriage and family. You won’t be able to put it down, but you won’t forget it either.”—Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
“A riveting, seductive read about the secret, protected places within even the most intimate relationships . . . Janelle Brown has written a novel that provokes thought as her story twists and turns. I loved it.”—Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
“Watch Me Disappear is at once a riveting page-turner and a thoughtful meditation on what it means to know other people—and ourselves. Be careful: Once you start Janelle Brown’s expertly crafted and wonderfully mysterious novel, you won’t be able to stop.”—Edan Lepucki, New York Times bestselling author of California
“I devoured Watch Me Disappear in one sitting. Brown deftly peels away the layers of a loving marriage to reveal a haunting mystery and a devastating truth: that no matter how much you love someone, you can never truly know them.”—Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood
“The plot is gripping enough: A woman’s disappearance leaves a daughter and husband in a limbo that moves rapidly into true mystery, with ever-widening gaps between acceptance and doubt, memory and history, truth and lies—all very slippery and treacherous and thrilling. But the real magic of Watch Me Disappear is Brown’s gift for evoking familial love in all its mad permutations—and the more intensely for the high stakes of what has been taken, and what is yet to be found. This is a story you simply don’t want to end—but then, lord, what an ending!”—Tim Johnston, author of Descent
About the Author
Janelle Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and This Is Where We Live. An essayist and a journalist, she has written for Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Wired, Self, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and numerous other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.
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Sybilla "Billie" Flanagan lives with her husband Jonathan and fifteen-year-old daughter Olive in Berkeley's Elmwood District, in an old brown-shingle home just off College Avenue. They're a seemingly typical upper-middle-class Bay Area family. Jonathan is a senior editor at a magazine that covers the tech industry. Olive is a junior at a private, all-girls preparatory school in Oakland. And Billie, though an artist in her younger years, has devoted herself to homemaking.
Now, however, Billie has been missing for nearly a year and is presumed dead. In the years immediately before her disappearance, she had left home from time to time for long weekends to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. But she hasn't returned from her last backpacking trip in Desolation Wilderness. She has simply disappeared, and a protracted search has failed to turn up any clue as to what happened to her. In his grief, and his concern for Olive, Jonathan has left his job at the magazine to write a memoir about his life with Billie. He's now in financial straits, struggling to pay the mortgage and dodging calls from Olive's school about her tuition bill—and he can't access the money from Billie's $250,000 life insurance policy because there's no death certificate. Billie is only presumed dead.
Then things get worse.
Gradually, Jonathan begins to learn unsettling facts about the life Billie led after running away from home at age sixteen. To make matters worse, Olive begins having conversations with her dead mother. She insists that Billie is alive and wants to be found. As Jonathan and Olive separately pursue investigations into their disappearing wife and mother, Billie's past life comes back to haunt them.
Watch Me Disappear is suspenseful to a fault. Though a little slow on the uptake, the novel speeds up as the complications multiply—and most readers will be surprised by the ending.
Sometimes the comparisons to other books hurt rather than enhance a book. In this case, the comparisons to Gone Girl made me more reluctant to read it after a first good impression.
Most recent customer reviews
Olive is a teenage girl who's mother (Billie) has died.Read more
Janelle Brown makes you ask this question over and over throughout this novel.Read more
Will look for another book from this author.