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Archive for the ‘Jenny Downham’ Category

How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss is a charming book about intergenerational relationships, very similar to Jenny Downham’s Unbecoming.

While Hattie is home alone she answers a phone call. The stranger on the other end, Peggy, tells Hattie that her elderly neighbor, Gloria, is unwell and it would be nice if Gloria’s only family, that is Hattie’s family, would visit her. The problem is that nobody in Hattie’s family has ever heard of Gloria.

When the rest of Hattie’s family begins a two week vacation, Hattie decides to drive to London (Hattie’s not an experienced driver) to visit Gloria, who turns out to be her great-aunt. What she finds is a crusty old lady, sitting in a window seat sipping Champagne. Gloria makes it clear she wants no part of Hattie, but Hattie is unshaken.

On her second visit, Hattie learns that Gloria is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and suggests Gloria prepare a bucket list of places she’d like to visit while she can still remember them and the two women take a road trip, which Gloria reluctantly agrees to.

How Not to Disappear is a book about two women who have secrets: the first is a seventeen year old keeping a secret from her parents and the second is a seventy year old with a secret she’s never told anyone. It’s a rewarding intergenerational story about two people who come to terms with their lives and form a bond.

The parallels to Unbecoming are uncanny. In How Not to Disappear, Hattie meets an great aunt she never met. In Unbecoming, Katie meets a grandmother she’s never met. Both older women are suffering from dementia. The young women form a bond with their elderly relatives who in turn relate their life stories. Both older women led carefree theatrical lives. Both young women have an issue they must come to terms with. There is one more similarity which I’ll let the reader discover.

While the similarities are numerous, the books are vastly different and both should be read.

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