Hattie is seventeen and pregnant after a one night stand with her best friend. He’s off travelling around Europe, her other best friend is in Edinburgh with her clingy girlfriend and her mum is busy stressing over her wedding. Hattie ends up on a road trip with her estranged Great-Aunt, who is suffering from early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
The story is told from two perspectives; Hattie in the present day and Gloria in a hazy mixture of current day thoughts and memories of the past. Both characters are great and they each have believable reasons for wanting to go on their road trip. The relationship between them didn’t feel forced at all.
It also felt like a very female orientated book. Yes, there are some male characters (some deeply flawed, others very loving, none of them stereotypes and developed in their own right) but it’s not their story. They’re side characters to Hattie and Gloria and actually, in the end, the men don’t play a part in the decisions they make.
How Not To Disappear reminded me in part of Elizabeth Is Missing, kind of like a younger sibling. Rather than the main character struggling to piece together the mystery in the face of her own memory loss, Gloria tries to share her story before is too late. It was a beautiful commentary on how our memories define us and I really really loved it.