Watch Me Disappear: A Novel by Janelle BrownWatch Me Disappear: A Novel by Janelle Brown

Watch Me Disappear: A Novel

byJanelle Brown

Hardcover | July 11, 2017

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The disappearance of a beautiful, charismatic mother leaves her family to piece together her secrets in this propulsive novel for fans of Big Little Lies—from the bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Watch Me Disappear is just as riveting as Gone Girl.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Praise for Watch Me Disappear

Watch Me Disappear is a surprising and compelling read. Like the best novels, it takes the reader somewhere she wouldn’t otherwise allow herself to go. . . . It’s strongest in the places that matter most: in the believability of its characters and the irresistibility of its plot.”Chicago Tribune

“Janelle Brown’s third family drama delivers an incisive and emotional view of how grief and recovery from loss can seep into each aspect of a person’s life. . . . Brown imbues realism in each character, whose complicated emotions fuel the suspenseful story.”Associated Press

“When a Berkeley mother vanishes and is declared dead, her daughter is convinced she’s alive in Janelle Brown’s thriller, calling to mind Big Little Lies and Gone Girl.”Variety
Janelle Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and This Is Where We Live. An essayist and a journalist, she has written for Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Wired, Self, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and numerous other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two chi...
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Title:Watch Me Disappear: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9.5 × 6.3 × 1.3 inPublished:July 11, 2017Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812989465

ISBN - 13:9780812989465

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Watch Me Disappear: Navigating Between Love and Independence Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown is an engrossing novel driven by its characters’ neuroses and its surprising, multi-layered plot, which not only dominate the story, but seduce its readers to delve into the book full force with intrigue and expectation. The characters of the book are richly well-written, endorsing a realism and empathy that seems effortless on behalf of the author as seen not only through the dialogue in the novel, but through the honest feelings and thoughts of her characters, who are easily relatable. Jonathan Flanagan, a dedicated husband and father takes his role seriously as provider for his family. But, the disappearance of his wife, Billie, after a hiking trip over a weekend, reels him into a year-long period in which grief not only alienates him from his teenage daughter, Olive, of whom he is now solely responsible for, but also into a state where his fatherhood, as well as his marriage are put into question. Olive, in turn, is not only burdened with the awkwardness of being a teenager in high school, but being the teenager known for the one whose mother has gone missing. Not only does she suffer the loss of a mother of whom she was close, but suffers for what is believed to be hallucinations of her—alive, somewhere—but, where? As the anniversary of the loss of Billie nears, and the process of her death certificate comes into its final stages, both husband and daughter go on separate journeys in their investigation of what happened to Billie, uncovering instead the complication of a woman they thought they knew and the histories of her past that resurface in the wake of her absence. The book is rich in how it portrays the truth of its characters from Jonathan’s feelings of insecurity and sexual monotony in a loving, but long, loyal marriage; to Olive’s idolatry of her mother’s memory and her subliminal wish to emanate her independence and thrill-seeking personality; to Harmony’s nurturing kindness and natural rivalry with her best friend as proxy partner and hope-to-be wife to a grieving family. The dialogue is real enough to convince readers of the characters’ relatability to empathize with them—or hate them—in lieu of their failings. And the narrative is readable, moving the book along at a comfortable pace that doesn’t make the book feel heavy, boring, or long. And once readers believe they realize the possible outcomes of the plot, the plot is intelligent and coy enough to change into a different direction. Watch Me Disappear is a compelling story of navigating between love and loss, selflessness and independence, the fluidity of personality—and that narrative can easily shape an identity as much as it can reveal it—or keep it hidden. Which begs the question: Can anyone really ever know anyone else? Characters: 4 stars Plot: 4.5 stars Language/Narrative: 3.5 stars Dialogue: 4 stars Pacing: 4.5 stars Cover Design: 4 stars
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read I read the advanced readers copy edition. As I was reading this book, I got more and more into it, wanting to find out what had happened with the mother.
Date published: 2017-07-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Could not put down! I received this book in a giveaway from Goodreads. I was hooked on this book as soon as I started reading it, such a captivating novel front to back. Definitely enjoyed the characters and the story line, nothing to me seemed too over-worked or try hard. One of my top reads of the year.
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I was spellbound from the beginning. I recommend this novel
Date published: 2017-03-27

Bookclub Guide

1. Is it natural for a mother to want to leave her family sometimes, even if most don’t act on it? How would the story be different if Jonathan had been the one to disappear?2. How do you think the author meant to portray Jonathan? Did his relationship with Harmony change the way you saw him?3. Do you believe there was genuine love in Billie and Jonathan’s marriage? To what extent is some degree of secrecy a normal, even necessary, part of a marriage?4. Olive felt that she was receiving psychic messages from her missing mother. Do you think this really was something paranormal? Part of a mother-daughter bond? A neurological condition? Have you ever felt some kind of unexplained communication with a parent or child or someone you love? If so, did you experience it on your own—as a dream or an experience of heightened intuition—or with the help of a psychic medium, like the Sharon Parkins character in the novel?5. How does Olive’s growing self-awareness and the revelation that comes with it fit into the novel’s larger theme of searching for one’s true identity? Discuss the ways other characters have sought to discover—or change—their personas.6. Throughout the novel, you get to see Billie through different perspectives—from her daughter, her husband, her friends, and more. After finishing the novel, do you feel like you know who Billie really is, or do you still find her to be a mystery?7. Is Billie a classic femme fatale? Why or why not? Is she a feminist character?8. As you read, there are clues that suggest different possible endings for Billie. Were you surprised by the ending? If you were, how did you think it would end and why?9. How do you get to know someone who lies to themself? Can you ever really know a person?

Editorial Reviews

“Watch Me Disappear is a surprising and compelling read. Like the best novels, it takes the reader somewhere she wouldn’t otherwise allow herself to go. . . . It’s strongest in the places that matter most: in the believability of its characters and the irresistibility of its plot.”—Chicago Tribune   “Janelle Brown’s third family drama delivers an incisive and emotional view of how grief and recovery from loss can seep into each aspect of a person’s life. . . . Brown imbues realism in each character, whose complicated emotions fuel the suspenseful story.”—Associated Press“When a Berkeley mother vanishes and is declared dead, her daughter is convinced she’s alive in Janelle Brown’s thriller, calling to mind Big Little Lies and Gone Girl.”—Variety“A twisty, involving mystery.”—People   “Watch Me Disappear is just as riveting as Gone Girl. . . . The characters are arresting, the Berkeley setting delightfully authentic, and, best of all, the propulsive investigation may make you want to go into hiding just to finish the book now.”—San Francisco Chronicle“Clever and compelling, this ricocheting tale reveals that, even in the closest families, how little we know of the ones we love, and how our own secrets are often the hardest to bear, can cost us dearly in the end.”—Lisa Gardner, author of Right Behind You “Tantalizing and twisty, Watch Me Disappear is both a spider’s web of a novel and a moving exploration of the deeper mysteries of marriage and family. You won’t be able to put it down, but you won’t forget it either.”—Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me “A riveting, seductive read about the secret, protected places within even the most intimate relationships . . . Janelle Brown has written a novel that provokes thought as her story twists and turns. I loved it.”—Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants “Watch Me Disappear is at once a riveting page-turner and a thoughtful meditation on what it means to know other people—and ourselves. Be careful: Once you start Janelle Brown’s expertly crafted and wonderfully mysterious novel, you won’t be able to stop.”—Edan Lepucki, New York Times bestselling author of California “I devoured Watch Me Disappear in one sitting. Brown deftly peels away the layers of a loving marriage to reveal a haunting mystery and a devastating truth: that no matter how much you love someone, you can never truly know them.”—Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood “The plot is gripping enough: A woman’s disappearance leaves a daughter and husband in a limbo that moves rapidly into true mystery, with ever-widening gaps between acceptance and doubt, memory and history, truth and lies—all very slippery and treacherous and thrilling. But the real magic of Watch Me Disappear is Brown’s gift for evoking familial love in all its mad permutations—and the more intensely for the high stakes of what has been taken, and what is yet to be found. This is a story you simply don’t want to end—but then, lord, what an ending!”—Tim Johnston, author of Descent