FICTION

How To Disappear Completely

HarperCollins/Harper. Apr. 2020. 384p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062893284.
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Gr 4-6–A successful blend of mystery and friendship drama whose heroine is learning to embrace her diagnosis of vitiligo. Emma begins seventh grade with a lot on her mind: Her family has moved to a small town, her beloved grandmother has died, and she just found a white spot on the light brown skin of her foot. Within a few weeks, more color disappears from her skin, and the alpha mean girl in class adds Emma’s changed appearance to the list of things she taunts her about. Fortunately, the protagonist has allies in a new friend from Los Angeles, an understanding teacher, and her own originally unsympathetic mother. Woven throughout Emma’s first-person narrative are excerpts from her favorite (fictional) book, The World at the End of the Tunnel, as well as notebook entries where she co-writes a magical tale with an unknown correspondent. These interjections, plus a complicated plot involving old friendships and hidden family history, slow the pace a bit; but the thoughtful protagonist and her journey to self-acceptance make for an appealing read. An estimated one percent of people worldwide have vitiligo, and accurate information within the text will leave readers better informed about this common condition.
VERDICT This gentle, contemporary title is sure to strike a chord with older tweens.

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