When We Disappear: A Novel by Lise Haines. Unbridled Books. Copyright June 2018.; hb. 304 pp.; ISBN: 9781609531478.
Mona and her father, Richard, are out driving when the unthinkable happens. They are in a car accident, which we don’t discover until well into the novel, caused by Richard and a mother and child die because Richard panics and leaves the scene. The rest of the story fleshes out the consequence of those few minutes of inaction. In one sense, they are horrific for the victims who die. In another sense they are tragic as Mona and her father live day after day with that event coloring their every thought, word and deed. It’s almost beyond words to explain!
Yet this event coincides with Mona’s teenage years and Richard’s life as the economy causes him to lose his job. His answer is to leave home, “looking for a job” and wandering from state to state. He meets people of all kind, no spoilers here, who represent various personalities, careers, etc., including circus people, and other normal and different types. Mona’s Mom, who is extremely talented in making sculptures that sell and show in galleries with great acclaim until the failing economy forces her to put her artistic career on hold. Now they must sell their home, move into a small apartment and make do with whatever money they can make with occasional small amounts sent by Richard.
Mona is basically rebelling against it all. She develops her own artistic senses as a photographer, sleeps with the man training her in her future career and other guys. Yet there’s a sense of responsibility that endearingly holds her to monitor the well-being of her Mom and her sister Lola, as well as expressing her teenage angst with snipes of irony and more.
You will have to wait for the incredible ending of this poignant story to experience the surprising quality of closeness and separation that abide together in this unique priceless family.
Lise Haines is a phenomenal writer. This is not a bleak book despite its tragic circumstances. It’s a story of loss, lies, betrayal, deep love and rehabilitation which makes every one of its characters grow into true human richness! This is a potent, unusual and memorable read that this reviewer highly recommends!