How Not to Disappear
by Clare Furniss
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release Date - July 14th 2016
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository
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.
As part of my new job I have a summer reading list to work my way through and this beauty was on their. They beauty of my job is reading things I would never read at all, and I think I will be doing that a lot in times to come. But How Not to Disappear really reminded me much of Non Pratt's Trouble that it was indeed going to be a special novel to divulge.
My first book from Clare Furniss tells a truly gorgeous and beautifully written story between two generations on a road trip of self-discovery. Hattie has just discovered she is pregnant and no matter how many times she takes that test, the same result appears and to be honest she doesn't really have a clue what to do. All her friends are away, Kat is off with her all controlling girlfriend that doesn't let he do anything, and her best friend and very more than likely father of the baby is off doing a searching for himself whilst travelling with his long lost father and any girl he can get with. Whilst her mum and soon to be step dad is on holiday whilst having wedding dramas. Add in her pregnancy and your having a teenage meltdown, not to mention receiving a phone call from a friend of her long lost great-aunt Gloria to go a visit her as she is sadly very ill and at a crucial point in her life.
For me the highlight of the book was Gloria, without a doubt. She was just a glowing, unique and vibrant mature lady. With each moment and memory that she shared with Hattie, the more she relaxed into her own character. Each passing page or conversation, it was emotional when you see her struggling to be the person she is trying to remember whilst also being the person that she has had to be because of her condition. The emotions are so raw, scary and delicate even that seeing the life of such an adventurous lady that go and come back so intermittently and also generally witnessing someone going through this on a daily basis. Gloria, never fails to make me laugh, with personality and her insistence to wear heels no matter the conditions and martinis, or gin at any hour. She never fails to try and be the person she really is and for me that is the most poignant moment of the novel.
Together Gloria and Hattie are quite the team both remembering and creating memories. I believed that whilst Gloria told her story, Hattie was starting to create her own. Hattie learns a lot from Gloria, when she herself is so lost in her own life and also the future of the life that is growing inside of her. In a way they both were a like and going through a similar journey but at different stages in their own life. Told through alternating POVs as well as their past and present, it really lends a touching and realistic story-telling of two individuals, generations between them searching and not disappearing within their own lives and living for the ones that will carry their story on. A story that every reader needs to experience.
"I live. I love. I remember. I forget. But still I live. And still I love. Still I am."
Rating - 5