Vanishing Acts: A Novel by Jodi PicoultVanishing Acts: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Vanishing Acts: A Novel

byJodi Picoult

Paperback | November 15, 2005

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New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her ability to tap into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she explores what happens when a young woman’s past—a past she didn’t even know she had—catches up to her just in time to threaten her future.

How do you recover the past when it was never yours to lose?

Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her beloved, widowed father, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall…until a policeman knocks on her door, revealing a secret about herself that changes the world as she knows it—and threatens to jeopardize her future.

With Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult explores how life—as we know it—might not turn out the way we imagined; how the people we’ve loved and trusted can suddenly change before our very eyes; how the memory we thought had vanished could return as a threat. Once again, Picoult handles an astonishing and timely topic with understanding, insight, and compassion.
Jodi Picoult grew up in Nesconset, New York. She received an A.B. in creative writing from Princeton, & a master's degree in education from Harvard. She is the author of six previous books. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband & three children.
Title:Vanishing Acts: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.1 inPublished:November 15, 2005Publisher:Washington Square PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0743454553

ISBN - 13:9780743454551

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking Novel Though not her best, the story is compelling and difficult to put down. The content of the story is very dark, and as a warning, some could easily trigger someone who has experienced trauma in their life.
Date published: 2018-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read The plot in this novel is somewhat ironic in that the main character is a search and rescue worker who finds herself the victim of a familial kidnapping. Certain memories that keep arising and that don't fit in with her present life or remembrances of her childhood life cause her some puzzlement. However all things fall apart when her father is arrested on criminal charges but ironically this arrest and what follow provides a semblance to her past. The ending is different in that when you think questions have been answered you realize that they may not have been answered truthfully.
Date published: 2018-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Such an interesting story! Full of twists and turns!
Date published: 2017-01-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I loved this I loved the book but it was hard to get into at times.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from No-One Just Disappears! Or Do They? From the title of the book, you would think that Vanishing Acts is a novel about magic. In a way, it is. Delia Hopkins' dad is a magician and one of the highlights of her life was when she got to fill in for his assistant at the age of 6. That was the night she realized that people don't just disappear. Or do they? Now an adult, Delia has an ideal life. Growing up in idyllic, rural New Hampshire, she has a handsome fiancé, Eric, a daughter, Sophie, an amazing search and rescue dog named Greta, a best friend, Fitz (also her fiancé's best friend), and a father she adores. Then one day, out of the blue, the police come to their house, arrest her father, and extradite him to Arizona and her whole past life distorts into an abyss of lies. Nothing in her past life was true. Her mother hadn't died in a car crash, Delia wasn't born in New York, and her name isn't even Delia Hopkins. Her father kidnapped her from her alcoholic mother, ran, and never looked back. She is a missing person. Delia has a lot of difficulty reconciling her loving father with someone who would lie to her all her life and keep her from knowing her mother. Eric, a recovering alcoholic and father of Delia's little girl, falls off the wagon and brings even more insecurity into her life. Their best friend, Fitz, has always been in love with Delia and steps in to fill the void. While Delia is trying to piece together the truth of her life, she, Sophie, and Greta stay in a trailer near the prison where her father is being held and near the home of her now re-married, estranged mother. A neighbour in the trailer park, Ruthanne, becomes a friend, draws her into Hopi traditions, and helps her to sort out her feelings a bit. But Delia is really having difficulty coming to terms with the new revelations that keep coming to light. Flashbacks she can't quite grasp keep surfacing and while she wants to know and trust her mother, she senses something isn't right. When her own daughter disappears, Delia comes close to the edge. This was the first book by Jodi Picoult I have read. I liked it and enjoyed the search and rescue parts, the Hopi native ritual parts, and the way the story was told at different times from different perspectives. I understood Delia's anger with her father at first but she had known him as a loving parent for more than 28 years and I think she should have tried to understand his perspective a little more. I wasn't really satisfied with the ending although I still felt it was a good book.
Date published: 2016-11-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed this 4.25 stars Delia works in search and rescue. She has a daughter with, and is engaged to, Eric, who she has known just about forever. Fitz, best friend to both of them, has also known them forever. It was always the three of them. Delia grew up with a single father as her only parent, as her mother had died in a car crash when Delia was only 4 years old. Except for a missing mother, though, her father gave Delia a perfect childhood. Now, at 32-years old, Delia's world comes crashing down when the police arrive at her doorstep. I really liked this. This is my first Picoult book, and I was drawn in right away. There were occasional parts that I didn't find as interesting, but overall, I really enjoyed it. It included a few twists and turns along the way. It was told from many different points of view, but the start of the chapter told you who was telling that part of the story. I thought it worked well. It was good to see the same scenario from different points of view.
Date published: 2013-02-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Book I love Jodi Picoult, I think her work is awesome. I really liked this book, I found it gripped me from the beginning and I liked the storyline compared to other reviews I have seen her. This is only the second book I read by her so maybe that is why I really liked it, maybe when I'll read the other books I'll think less of this one. But this book really got me wanting to continue reading. The parts about the grandfather sometimes were long and I didn't find they were really needed to make the story, I feel like she could've shortened some of his parts. I got really attached to the mother and the daughter throughout the story. Very enjoyable book and worth the read.
Date published: 2012-07-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not at all what I expected It is probably one of the least good of her novels
Date published: 2012-06-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not that great I've heard that Jodi Picoult's books were really good, so, I decided to give this one a try. I found it to be long since for the majority of the book the storyline wasn't interesting. Towards the end it did grab my attention, however, I found the end to be disappointing. After reading this book, I highly doubt that I'll be reading any of her other books anytime soon.
Date published: 2009-12-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I liked it...but that's all I can really say about it... Honestly I have yet to find a Jodi Picoult book that I do not like. Some I enjoyed reading more than others, but none have fallen flat. Vanishing Acts falls into the latter category. I liked it, but there are other books of hers out there that are better. The ending seemed kind of blah for me, I personally would have liked a bit more detail, but aside from that it was another well written book by an author always worth looking into.
Date published: 2009-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book Although this book does not measure up to Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper", it still is a good read. It's an interesting story.
Date published: 2008-07-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not her best... After reading Plain Truth and My Sister's Keeper, I truthfully expected more from this story. I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the others and found myself struggling to keep reading. I did not enjoy the Father's story at all but did take interest in the main character and her daughter. I found the father/grandfather's story quite disturbing and didn't really want to continue reading those parts. The story was decent and I enjoyed the ending but I definitely found her other books much more interesting.
Date published: 2008-07-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unsatisfying I expected this to be much better than it was and was kind of disappointed by the end. Jodi's trademark "surprise endings" never happened, but the exact same writing style that was present in "My Sister's Keeper", it just wasn't as novel this time around, nor was it even necessary. I think the story could have just as easily been told from one point of a view. The romantic component was also beyond weird and not at all realistic whatsoever. Definitely not Picoult's best work.
Date published: 2008-04-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Never Disappointing Once again, Jodi Picoult has delivered a truely amazing novel. The best part of a Jodi Picoult book is her ability to write in the perspective of each character without being bias to one particular truth. Her style allows you do see an issue from many different angles. This novel covers a very topical issue without getting too heavy. Great read, highly recommended.
Date published: 2006-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Picoult has a way of writing in many people's voices that is most enjoyable to read. This makes for interesting perspectives of a situation. Fitz's hanger-on status is a bit unbelievable. How long can someone wait around? Also for once I saw the twist at the end a mile away. The book deals very well with how suddenly our whole lives can change. Life as we know it is not necessarily how it really is
Date published: 2006-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great, but not as good as My Sister's Keeper Typical to Picoult's style, she draws you in within the first couple of pages, introduces you to the characters in a ways that feels like you know them personally, and makes you want to find out what happens to them. After having read My Sister's Keeper, I'm beginning to find Picoult's style somewhat formulaic. Her characters always have a different font style, the introduction of them is always similar, and they always seem to have random flashbacks. That being said, the book was still very interesting.
Date published: 2006-06-11

Read from the Book

Prologue I was six years old the first time I disappeared. My father was working on a magic act for the annual Christmas show at the senior center, and his assistant, the receptionist who had a real gold tooth and false eyelashes as thick as spiders, got the flu. I was fully prepared to beg my father to be part of the act, but he asked, as if I were the one who would be doing him a favor. Like I said, I was six, and I still believed that my father truly could pull coins out of my ear and find a bouquet of flowers in the folds of Mrs. Kleban's chenille housecoat and make Mr. van Looen's false teeth disappear. He did these little tricks all the time for the elderly folks who came to play bingo or do chair aerobics or watch old black-and-white movies with soundtracks that crackled like flame. I knew some parts of the act were fake -- his fiddlehead mustache, for example, and the quarter with two heads -- but I was one hundred percent sure that his magic wand had the ability to transport me into some limbo zone, until he saw fit to call me back. On the night of the Christmas show, the residents of three different assisted-living communities in our town braved the cold and the snow to be bused to the senior center. They sat in a semicircle watching my father while I waited backstage. When he announced me -- the Amazing Cordelia! -- I stepped out wearing the sequined leotard I usually kept in my dress-up bin. I learned a lot that night. For example, that part of being the magician's assistant means coming face-to-face with illusion. That invisibility is really just knotting your body in a certain way and letting the black curtain fall over you. That people don't vanish into thin air; that when you can't find someone, it's because you've been misdirected to look elsewhere. Copyright © 2005 by Jodi Picoult

Bookclub Guide

VANISHING ACTS Jodi Picoult Questions & Topics for Discussion 1. When she learns she was kidnapped as a child, Delia's choice of profession takes on a new significance. What motivated Delia to pursue a career in search-and-rescue? Does she view it differently once she knows about her past? 2. Delia says that as children she, Fitz, and Eric each had their roles: "Fitz was the dreamer; I was the practical tactician. Eric, on the other hand, was the front man: the one who could charm adults or other kids with equal ease." Have they continued these roles into adulthood? How so? Is each one comfortable in his or her role, or is there a longing to be something different? 3. In one instance Eric muses that "there are people in this world who have done worse things than Andrew Hopkins." What is your opinion of what Andrew did--taking Delia away from her mother and creating a new life for the two of them? From a legal standpoint, is he guilty of a crime? How about from a moral standpoint? 4. Andrew himself says, "Does it really matter why I did it? By now, you've already formed your impression. You believe that an act committed a lifetime ago defines a man, or you believe that a person's past has nothing to do with his future." A person cannot change his or her past actions, but can they make up for the hurt they've caused by helping others? Does the good that Andrew has done for the town of Wexton and for the senior citizens in his care--not to mention the happy childhood he gave Delia--make up for or excuse his taking his daughter? What do you make of Elise's remark to Andrew that Delia "turned out absolutely perfect"? 5. Eric believes that he does not have "the experience or the wits or the confidence" to represent Andrew. Why then does he agree to take on the case? Why does he continue to act as Andrew's attorney even when it causes tension between him and Delia? 6. In one instance Delia says to Fitz about meeting her mother for the first time, "I want this to be perfect. I want her to be perfect. But what if she's not? What if I'm not?" How does the reality measure up when she finally meets her mother? What kind of understanding do Delia and Elise come to? Why does Elise give Delia the "spell"--is it to help Andrew or her daughter? 7. Delia believes "it takes two people to make a lie work: the person who tells it, and the one who believes it." How do the characters in the novel, including Delia herself, prove this to be true? 8. During the trial, Eric tells the court he is an alcoholic. What does the exchange between Eric and Delia while he is questioning her on the witness stand reveal about their relationship? Do they view each other differently after this exchange? As two people who love alcoholics, how does Delia's treatment of Eric differ from Andrew's treatment of Elise? Whose actions and reactions, given their partner's disease, do you support? 9. Eric says to Andrew, "Everyone deserves a second chance." How does the idea of second chances play out in Vanishing Acts? Are there any characters who deserve a second chance and don't get one? And, conversely - are there any characters who do get a second chance - and squander it? 10. Elise tells Delia, "If you had grown up with me, this is one of the things I would have tried to teach you: marry a man who loves you more than you love him. Because I have done both now, and when it is the other way around, there is no spell in the world that can even out the balance." Discuss this in terms of Delia's relationships with both Eric and Fitz. Which man do you think Delia should be with, and why? 11. Both Delia and Sophie quickly develop a close relationship with Ruthann. When Ruthann commits suicide, Delia is there to witness it. Why does she not try to stop Ruthann? What does Delia come to realize about herself from this experience? 12. Many of the chapters told from Andrew's point of view occur while he is in prison, "where everyone reinvents himself." What do these scenes, which depict in graphic detail the harsh realities of life behind bars, reveal about Andrew? What do they add to the overall storyline? 13. Right versus wrong is a dominant theme in Vanishing Acts--whether Andrew was right or wrong to kidnap Delia, whether Eric is right or wrong to hide his continued drinking from Delia, whether Delia is right or wrong not to stop Ruthann. How do the multiple perspectives in the story blur these lines and show how two people can view the same situation completely different? Were there any instances where you changed your mind about something in the story after reading a different character's viewpoint? 14. Fitz tells Delia, "I think you're angry at yourself, for not being smart enough to figure this out all on your own...If you don't want someone to change your life for you again, Dee, you've got to change it yourself." How do Fitz's words make Delia see her circumstances differently? 15. Ruthann introduces Delia to the Hopi creation myth, which suggests that humans have outgrown the world four times already, and are about to inhabit a fifth. Do most people outgrow their origins? Is reinvention part of the human experience? How do each of the characters' actions support or disprove this? 16. At one point, we learn that Fitz has not been writing about Andrew's trial, but about Delia. In fact, when he reads the first few pages to her, we can recognize them as the first few pages of this book. How does this affect the story you read? Is Fitz a reliable narrator? 17. Much is made of the nature of memory - whether it is stored physically, whether it can be conjured at will, whether it can be organically triggered or planted. Ultimately, do you believe Delia's recovered memories at the end of the book? Why or why not? 18. How are each of the main characters--Delia, Fitz, Eric, Andrew, and Elise--most changed by the events that take place? Where do you envision the characters five years from now?

Editorial Reviews

"[A] masterpiece."
-- Romantic Times