February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

How To Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat | SLJ Review

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redstarROAT, Sharon Huss. How To Disappear. 384p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062291752.

Gr 7 Up –Vicky Decker relies upon her best friend, Jenna, to shield her from stressful social situations. That is, until Jenna and her family move away and Vicky’s social anxiety is cast into sharp relief against Jenna’s seeming ease at making new friends. To cope with her jealousy and loneliness, Vicky Photoshops herself into one exciting social setting after another and uploads the images onto Instagram, all from the safety of her bedroom. Calling herself #vicurious, a nod to her attempts to live vicariously, she is inundated with followers and publicity. But is she so busy being Vicurious that she’ll miss the opportunity to live life for real? Vicky’s viral Instagram habit is not merely self-serving, which distinguishes the narrative from similar books. Using hashtags such as #ignored and #seeme, Vicky discovers that she is far from #alone in her sense of invisibility, and she decides to help others like her. Her influence leads to a chain of kindness. This is a witty, hard-to-put-down novel that’s appropriate for younger teens. However, the lack of grittiness won’t deter older teens, who will be carried along by familiar lingo and references to social networks and celebrities. VERDICT Those who enjoy Laurie Halse Anderson’s works and Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey will want to snap up this funny, important, touching, and, at times, profound title. It offers an engaging tie-in with antibullying or kindness campaigns.–Melissa Williams, Berwick Academy, ME

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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