In Watch Me Disappear, Billie Flanagan, a Berkeley mother with an interesting past, went out on a solo hike (as all good angsty people ought since Wild) and never returned. All that was found of her was a hiking boot and her cell phone, and she is presumed dead. A year later, her husband and daughter are trying their hardest to get on with life, but that is still proving difficult. Jonathan, her husband, has quit his corporate job in order to write a memoir of his life with Billie and her teenaged daughter Olive is getting more teenager-ish by the day.
While they wait for enough time to pass to be issued an official death certificate, Olive starts to have strange visions of her mother trying to contact her to convey that she is not actually dead. She soon starts to believe that there is more to the story and she starts to look for Billie, uncovering a whole slew of secrets about her life. Jonathan somehow gets pulled into this and they fall into a confusing (to them and to us) mess of leads and discoveries about who Billie really was.
It’s hard to categorize this book – mystery, thriller, novel, YA possibly – and I stopped trying eventually and just read it. While I overall enjoyed the story, and was really drawn in by the plot, this book is a bit too long and ultimately not very satisfying. The ending was good, and unexpected, but I wish that it had come sooner. There is no denying, however, that Janelle Brown can write. I would definitely read another of her books, but can’t wholeheartedly recommend this one.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of Watch Me Disappear; it will be available July 11 everywhere.
Watch Me Disappear – Grade B-