Author: Clare Furniss
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Date published: 2016
Spoiler warning: Minor
Our memories are what makes 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.
- From Goodreads.
How Not to Disappear was an emotional story that did not shy away from some difficult elements, and addressed those elements without making you want to stop reading it. By addressing troubling issues it showed how important it is that we face problems in our society and stand up to its flaws, such as racism and rape culture. It showed how important progress is, in that it reminds you of how much worse things used to be, but also how we still have room to keep improving.
While doing this, there was at the same time still a sense of humour which helped the book feel optimistic in the face of the tough decisions and situations that the characters had to deal with. There was an important message of keeping hopeful in the face of despair and this was helped by the fact that the two narrators still managed to find moments of humour, and it felt more realistic that way too, as it showed how complicated and mixed up life can be, with many different ups and downs.
The novel also had a wonderful use of language to convey emotion, it was evocative and heartfelt, and witty too. The language was well used to emphasise the significance of feeling in the story, and the importance of the idea of being alive in the moment and letting yourself feel in the moment.