Review: How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss


Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: January 28, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Goodreads || Book Depository

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’s 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 previously knew even 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 wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.


4 stars

I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster Australia. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is a story about two women from different generations who go through similar experiences of being pregnant at a young age. It is a heartwarming story about family and motherhood and I enjoyed it very much.

In this book, Hattie discovers that she’s pregnant with her best friend’s child and she has no idea how to handle the situation. She spends her time ignoring the situation and when she receives a phone call one day about a crazy great-aunt that she never knew existed, she decides that it’s the perfect distraction. Her great-aunt, Gloria, suffers from dementia and wants to tell Hattie some family secrets that nobody else knows about before her memory fades. Together, they go on a trip to places from Gloria’s past and Hattie discovers some answers to her predicament.

This has two separate storylines. We get Hattie’s story and how she handles the knowledge of her pregnancy, as she travels through England with Gloria. We also get Gloria’s story through flashbacks spread throughout the book. I really enjoyed that both of these storylines were included in the book and, being a lover of historical fiction, I really liked the time period and setting of Gloria’s story. Gloria’s past was like a mystery that was slowly being unravelled throughout the book and I appreciated the little twists that the author placed in the book. I did predict the twist that came at the end of the book, about halfway through the novel, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also appreciated the dual perspectives that we got, but I did have some issues with it. Hattie and Gloria’s voices were too similar for my liking. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two perspectives and if there wasn’t a difference in font and formatting in the book, I would’ve been completely confused. Gloria also acted and sounded like a child most of the time, which didn’t help the confusion.

I wasn’t a fan of the writing style in general. There was far too much telling and not enough showing, which made me feel a little bit disconnected from everything that was going on. I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story and I just wasn’t engaged with what was happening. The book could have been a much more emotional read, if I had been shown what was going on rather than told. Hattie was also a chronic question-asker and I felt like I was even being told what questions I should be having about the plot. There were questions being thrown at me in quick succession, and I couldn’t help but think that they were questions I should be formulating by myself. I also thought that the flow of the book wasn’t very good. A lot of sentences were all mid-length and I think the novel needed a bit more variation in sentence length in order to have better flow.

I really enjoyed the plot of the story (both the main plot and Gloria’s past) but the book was a little bit slow in pace. There was a big section in the middle of the book where nothing really happens and I felt quite disengaged. There were lots and lots of flashbacks in this middle section and I felt like the book wasn’t really progressing. They were pretty much just driving, eating, sleeping and walking around the streets, in the present. We were getting to know Gloria’s story (at an agonisingly slow pace) but not getting to know more about Hattie at the same time. I did highly enjoy the first and last thirds of the book though.

The characters of this book were likeable and relatable for the most part. I loved Hattie and how kind-hearted she was. She was also very mature and put herself and her well-being first when it came to making decisions. I also really liked Gloria’s character but, like I mentioned before, she acted like a child a lot of the time, which was pretty frustrating to read about. I also didn’t think that Gloria’s dementia was handled very well. There were a couple of info-dumps about dementia but I found that it was the same information being dumped over and over. I didn’t think we needed constant reminders about one symptom of dementia. The information was all presented as research from websites that Hattie had done, which made it sound very unreliable. I thought the dementia could have been incorporated and developed a little bit better in the book.

Even though I have quite a lot of criticisms about the book, I still enjoyed it. I thought the story was heartwarming, well-conceptualised and brought out all the emotions in me, but was slightly lacking in its execution.


8 thoughts on “Review: How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Yeah, I think it was just the writing that stopped me from really connecting to the story emotionally. It was just too much telling and I couldn’t really form my own feelings or thoughts about the book. But it was still a really heartwarming story and I enjoyed how everything played out!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Cait @ Paper Fury says:

    Ooh, I have this to read! I’ve been a little dubious to start it though, because I’m so tough on contemporaries, gah, but I DID like The Year of the Rat….so I’m still hopefully that this one will be for me. XD That middle bit sounds boring though. Boo. And I actually didn’t know it was about teenage pregnancy. (One day I’ll read blurbs…ahem.) SO ANYWAY!! I’m excited since you gave it 4-stars! 😀

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!


    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I was also kind of hesitating to pick this up as well because of the size of it. I wasn’t quite expecting it to be such a long book (…400 pages isn’t even that long but the book is pretty fat). The middle is definitely a bit of a snooze but the end makes up for it a bit! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it, Cait.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s