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Reviews of Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

A Novel

by Alison Espach

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach X
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2022, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2023, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Liv Pasquarelli
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About this Book

Book Summary

From Alison Espach, author of the New York Times Editor's Choice novel The Adults, comes a dazzlingly unconventional love story for readers of Ask Again, Yes and Tell the Wolves I'm Home.

For much of her life, Sally Holt has been mystified by the things her older sister, Kathy, seems to have been born knowing. Kathy has answers for all of Sally's questions about life, about love, and about Billy Barnes, a rising senior and local basketball star who mans the concession stand at the town pool. The girls have been fascinated by Billy ever since he jumped off the roof in elementary school, but Billy has never shown much interest in them until the summer before Sally begins eighth grade. By then, their mutual infatuation with Billy is one of the few things the increasingly different sisters have in common. Sally spends much of that summer at the pool, watching in confusion and excitement as her sister falls deeper in love with Billy―until a tragedy leaves Sally's life forever intertwined with his.

Opening in the early nineties and charting almost two decades of shared history and missed connections, Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is both a breathtaking love story about two broken people who are unexplainably, inconveniently drawn to each other and a wryly astute coming-of-age tale brimming with unexpected moments of joy.

THE STATE OF THE UNION, 1998

You disappeared on a school night. Nobody was more surprised by this than me. If I believed in anything when I was thirteen, I believed in the promise of school nights. I believed in the sacred ritual of homework, then dinner, and then the laying out of our clothes for the next morning—something Mom insisted on from the very beginning.

Mom said it was important to wake up having made the decision about what to wear. So, each night, we made the decision. We brushed our teeth. We stared at each other in the mirror as the foam built and built in our mouths, and eventually one of us would speak. "Hello," you'd say, and this would be so funny for some reason that I can't understand now. You would start laughing, a loud burst of confetti out your mouth—and so I would start laughing, an ugly inward sucking sound that always made Mom run into a room and say, "Sally, are you okay?" which made us laugh even harder.

"She's just laughing, Mom," you said.

We got...

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Reviews

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Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance probes the void left behind after a loved one dies. The author's words never wince and they never look away. Sally's voice develops as she grows older, her vocabulary matures with her, and her astute observations on the world paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind. Alison Espach writes beautifully with spare language that keeps the reader immersed in the story. She writes the way a younger sister writes to her older sister, the way someone writes to the person they love most in the world...continued

Full Review (646 words)

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(Reviewed by Liv Pasquarelli).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
A marvelous exercise in voice…Never contrived, the novel is beautifully written, making even the quotidian details of Sally's life fascinating, in part because the story invites such a deep emotional involvement with the fully realized characters and, indeed, with the entirety of this splendid and memorable book.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[I]nventive and powerful...Espach captures the minutiae of love and loss with unflinching clarity and profound compassion, and pulls off the second-person point of view unusually well. Readers will be deeply moved."

Kirkus Reviews
This tragicomic bildungsroman in the shadow of loss will invade your heart and hold on tight.

Author Blurb Claire Lombardo, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
"Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is heartbreaking and funny, often in the same sentence—a deeply felt, finely wrought, and highly satisfying novel. Alison Espach has created a family whose every sorrow, joy, and idiosyncrasy is utterly, vibrantly real.

Author Blurb Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
Oh how I loved this novel! Alison Espach masterfully examines the effects of devastating loss with enormous wit, charm, and intelligence. This is truly a novel like no other.

Author Blurb Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen
Unputdownable, insightful, funny, and emotionally profound. A book that swirls and glitters with strangeness and delight, as much a portrait of grief as a love story, both love and grief hinging on the ways we negotiate with things we cannot control, how we sit in the cockpit of the self, what we dare to share with others and what remains ineffable. Gorgeous.

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Beyond the Book

Bonding Over Shared Trauma

People comforting each other in group therapyIn Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach, main characters Sally and Billy form an unbreakable bond after they both witness the death of Sally's older sister Kathy, who is Billy's girlfriend. Research on shared traumatic experiences shows a clear pattern in which people who have endured the same trauma often have a strong magnetic bond, despite the popular notion that shared grief tears love apart.

It's important to first understand the difference between the psychological concept of trauma bonding and the relationship between people who have shared traumatic experiences. Trauma bonding is a bond formed between an abuser and the abused. This is also commonly known as Stockholm Syndrome.

The bond over a shared traumatic ...

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Read-Alikes

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