Excerpt from Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Vanishing Acts

by Jodi Picoult

Vanishing Acts
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2005, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2005, 448 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Did you take her temperature?" I ask.

"Is it missing?" He grins at me when I roll my eyes. "She'll be her old self by dessert," he predicts. "Kids bounce back fast."

At nearly sixty, my father is good-looking—ageless, almost, with his salt-and-pepper hair and runner's build. Although there were any number of women who would have thrown themselves at a man like Andrew Hopkins, he only dated sporadically, and he never remarried. He used to say that life was all about a boy finding the perfect girl; he was lucky enough to have been handed his in a labor and delivery room.

He moves to the stove, adding half-and-half to the crushed tomatoes—a homemade recipe trick one of the seniors taught him that turned out to be surprisingly good, unlike their tips for helping Sophie avoid croup (tie a black cord around her neck) or curing an earache (put olive oil and pepper on a cotton ball and stuff into the ear). "When's Eric getting here?" he asks. "I can't keep this cooking much longer."

He was supposed to arrive a half hour ago, but there's been no phone call to say he's running late, and he isn't answering his cell. I don't know where he is, but there are plenty of places I am imagining him: Murphy's Bar on Main Street, Callahan's on North Park, off the road in a ditch somewhere.

Sophie comes into the kitchen. "Hey," I say, my anxiety about Eric disappearing in the wide sunny wake of our daughter. "Want to help?" I hold up the green beans; she likes the crisp sound they make when they snap.

She shrugs and sits down with her back against the refrigerator.

"How was school today?" I prompt.

Her small face darkens like the thunderstorms we get in July, sudden and fierce before they pass. Then, just as quickly, she looks up at me. "Jennica has warts," Sophie announces.

"That's too bad," I reply, trying to remember which one Jennica is—the classmate with the platinum braids, or the one whose father owns the gourmet coffee shop in town.

"I want warts."

"No, you don't." Headlights flash past the window, but don't turn into our driveway. I focus on Sophie, trying to remember if warts are contagious or if that's an old wives' tale.

"But they're green," Sophie whines. "And really soft and on the tag it says the name."

Warts, apparently, is the hot new Beanie Baby. "Maybe for your birthday."

"I bet you'll forget that, too," Sophie accuses, and she runs out of the kitchen and upstairs.

All of a sudden I can see the red circle on my calendar—the parent-child tea in her kindergarten class started at one o'clock, when I was halfway up a mountain searching for Holly Gardiner.

When I was a kid and there was a mother-daughter event in my elementary school, I wouldn't tell my father about it. Instead, I'd fake sick, staying home for the day so that I didn't have to watch everyone else's mother come through the door and know that my own was never going to arrive.

I find Sophie lying on her bed. "Baby," I say. "I'm really sorry."

She looks up at me. "When you're with them," she asks, a slice through the heart, "do you ever think about me?"

In response I pick her up and settle her on my lap. "I think about you even when I'm sleeping," I say.

It is hard to believe now, with this small body dovetailing against mine, but when I found out I was pregnant I considered not keeping the baby. I wasn't married, and Eric was having enough trouble without tossing in any added responsibility. In the end, though, I couldn't go through with it. I wanted to be the kind of mother who couldn't be separated from a child without putting up a fierce fight. I like to believe my own mother had been that way.

Copyright © 2005 by Jodi Picoult. Printed by permission. Excerpted from the book Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.