Featured Review: How To Disappear (Sharon Huss Roat)
About This Book:
Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight, quietly navigating the halls of her high school undetected except by her best (and only) friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable.
So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her— #alone and #ignored in real life.
To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life.
In this beautiful and illuminating narrative, Sharon Huss Roat shines a light on our love of social media and how sometimes being the person you think you want to be isn’t as great as being the person you truly are.
*Review Contributed By Jacklin Updegraft Staff Reviewer*
I am so absolutely in love with Sharon Huss Roat. Her books are funny, relatable, and so easily devoured. I read HOW TO DISAPPEAR in a day and a half, I just couldn’t put it down. Everything about this story was so beautiful, from the love interest to Vicky’s mother to Vicky herself. This was a character I adored and could see parts of myself in. Vicky is a young girl who has severe social anxiety, which I think is something a lot of teens and adults alike will relate with. In a desperate moment, Vicky creates a fake Instagram account photoshopping herself into places she wishes she was brave enough to go. Like Ellen, a spaceship with Neil deGrasse Tyson, riding a hippogryph, etc. Soon her small account starts to go viral. People begin to share and like and comment and Vicky’s fear of being seen starts to become all too real, but under that, she begins to feel like maybe she isn’t alone in how she feels.
There were a lot of things I feel like Roat just nailed with this book. The feeling of loneliness that goes through a lot of people, the use of technology for good, and the relationship dynamics. The relationship with Vicky and her mom is one we don’t get to see too often in YA. Vicky’s mom wants the best for her and Vicky wants to make her mom proud, but she can’t help but feel she’s disappointing her. My favorite scene is where they sit and talk to each other, Vicky makes it clear how she feels and her mother listens. There is no judgment no harsh word, just understanding, and acceptance. It’s clear Vicky’s mom doesn’t understand what she’s going through, but that she loves her and she will support her no matter what. It’s apparent that Roat has a very beautiful understanding of parent/child relationships.
Technology was another thing in this book that I was amazed by. It wasn’t seen as bad or a problem, it was seen as something that can be used for good or fun or a way to connect to those who felt alone or far away. Vicky’s Instagram really uses the message of hope and connection and I love that she used it to reach out to those who were scared or alone. And she didn’t do it alone. Kids at her school and all across the globe took her messages and put them to work in the real world as well as online. They reached out and they helped. I loved how beautiful this book was and how hopeful. It used technology and online relationships to bring to light something that I think a lot of us feel. With the message of you are not alone and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we feel alone and lost and scared and I loved how effortlessly and delicately Roat approached this subject and others.
There really are no words I could use that would accurately describe how much this book meant to me and how beautiful it was. It was funny and cute and deep and sad and breathtaking. Roat does an amazing job of capturing what it is to be a teen and one of the many benefits of technology. One thing I do want to mention is there is a bit towards the end about suicide (just talk) but it’s there. Overall I think this is a book many many teens and adults should read. It’s so beautiful in its accuracy and its one that will bring you to tears and make you laugh at the same time. Also if you liked Dear Evan Hansen you will definitely love this book.