cover image How to Disappear Completely

How to Disappear Completely

Ali Standish. HarperCollins, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-289328-4

Seamlessly blending childhood wonder with the slow lessons of maturity, Standish (August Isle) sketches a detailed portrait of 12-year-old Emma Talbot, a girl encountering loss. A voracious reader with a boundless imagination, Emma spent every weekend with her creative Gram in the fairytale-esque town of Lanternwood until the beginning of the summer, when Gram admitted that she had terminal cancer and the Talbots moved in to help. Now living in Gram’s cottage with her parents and older sister, Emma is starting seventh grade at the local school, where she knows no one, despite her time spent in town. On top of dealing with Gram’s death and a strained familial relationship, Emma, whose skin resembles her mother’s (it’s “much darker” than her father’s “buttercream” complexion), notices white spots on her skin—spots that multiply and get bigger by the day. What follows is a season of growth as Emma learns to navigate the complexities of her newly diagnosed vitiligo while puzzling through a few mysteries left by Gram. Though the ending feels a bit too neat, this tale succeeds in celebrating curiosity, thoughtfulness, and collaboration, centering on relatable characters who welcome readers into their world. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (Apr.) [/em]