cover image We Disappear

We Disappear

Scott Heim, . . Harper Perennial, $13.95 (293pp) ISBN 978-0-06-146897-1

Strange and luminous, this fascinating psychological thriller from Heim (In Awe ) tackles questions of identity, illness and trauma. Scott, a writer and drug addict, travels back to Kansas from New York City at the request of his ill mother, Donna, who’s become obsessed with missing children. Scott soon finds out that Donna believes she was kidnapped in her youth by an elderly couple who eventually returned her unharmed. This experience has led her to an odd alliance with a boy who leaves candy on Donna’s front porch. When Donna becomes too ill to continue research for a supposed book on disappeared children, Scott, with help from a friend of Donna’s, goes on the road for answers. Taut and beautifully clear, the writing at times recalls that of Paul Auster, but the plot ends in a place less interesting than where it began. The reader may feel that revealing the mundane truth behind Donna’s childhood experiences betrays the essential mystery of all the lost boys and girls described in the novel. (Mar.)