Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
So I have to do something a bit different with this book. I won’t summarize what didn’t work first because my brain keeps jumping around too much. I am going to start out with the synopsis, characters, writing, plot, flow, setting, ending. Then get to the overall impressions of the book. I just feel like I got really drunk last night and read this book. But I think because of how it is marketed (mystery, thriller, romance, family, drama) that maybe I am misreading the ending in the book. I don’t know. Let’s go.
“Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance” follows pre-teen Sally Holt. Sally is obsessed by everything her older sister Kathy does. And when Kathy starts to fall for fellow teen Billy Barnes. Kathy recounts her day and talks about the times that she sees Billy in the hallways. Eventually though Kathy and Billy end up an item and over the following months Sally feels cut off from her sister as she begins to spend more time with Billy. Sally though starts to fall for Billy a bit too, but also hates him because he’s taking Kathy away from her. But then a tragedy occurs and then there’s the rest of the book.
So Sally. I didn’t like her. I think that Espach at times was using enough context clues for a reader to read Sally as being on the autism spectrum. And I only say that because she has trouble understanding the meaning of things, she takes a lot of things too literal. And her growing need/obsession of everything that is Billy Barnes. And I hate to say this, but I found Sally repellant after a while. She really doesn’t seem to understand other people around her at all. And at times I wanted to say go to therapy. But she does at least to two separate ones during the timeline of this book and I am like, okay, so sometimes therapy does not work.
I have to say that the other characters, Kathy, the parents, Billy Barnes, other characters were well developed in the 1/3 of this book. And then everything came crashing down. I can’t do spoilers in these posts because they will show, but will post some spoilers on my Goodreads reviews if you are interested in reading them there. I just have to say that no one felt very real after a certain part of the book. I think it’s because we are still stuck with the narrative style that I will get to in a minute.
The writing actually didn’t work for me. I didn’t see a lot of reviews mention this, but Espach writes this as if Sally is talking to her sister Kathy and then will even recount what Kathy said. So it’s like you are watching a play and the narrator is explaining things but is also in the story. The whole thing was like a very long stream of consciousness at times and I wanted to yell stop, stop, stop so many times. It just didn’t work after the first part of the book.
The flow was bad. I think things grinded to a halt after the first 1/3 of the book. The remaining 2/3 I just kept going my God this is still going. I think because the characters are stuck it just felt like you are watching them be stuck. The book showcases 15 years and follows Sally from the time she is a pre-teen until she is 27 years old.
Since Bill Clinton is mentioned along with 9/11 I guessed this book was set between 1993 and 1998 (the first 1/3) and the remaining parts take place after 2001.
I recently read another coming of age dramatic book, “Our Little World” and when compared to that, this book doesn’t even compare. I think because that author managed to touch upon how grief shakes and changes you. But she has people moving on. For me, the characters in this book never move on. They all seem stuck. And in Sally’s case she’s just obsessed. I think if the genders had been switched this whole book would have been a cautionary tale or something. I just didn’t find it uplifting. I went geez, I really just read that. But then I don’t know if this is supposed to be dark or what. It’s marketed weird. I saw some other reviewers calling this a dark romance and I went, what? We are doing this? The main reason why this got two stars from me was the the first 1/3 was really good and got me very engrossed in this story. But then the whole book takes a swan dive. So, there you go, my jumbled thoughts on this strange book.