Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown
Billie Flanagan was a beautiful woman with the kind of life many wanted. She seemed to have it all. But everything changes one day when she goes for a hike and disappears. One of her hiking boots is found, but there’s no sign of Billie anywhere.
As the book opens Billie, Jonathan, and Olive are relaxing on the beach after a picnic lunch. Billie and Jonathan have been married for 16 years. They are watching their daughter, fifteen year old Olive walk along the shore. Billie seems to be worried about Olive but Jonathan shrugs off her concerns.
“In life the world is tough on soft things. She’s going to need to grow a thicker skin or she’s going to spend her whole life being too afraid to try anything”
Billie started acting strangely right before her disappearance. Now a year later, Olive has been pulling away from everything. She feels like she’s constantly waiting. Waiting for her mom to walk in the door or call on the phone. Then Olive has a type of vision and “sees” her mom. It seems so real. Her mother says things to her in these visions…
“I miss you. Why aren’t you looking?”
Olive becomes convinced her mother is alive. Her father is worried about her. Is it just her imagination…her hope…or something else? Up until then, Jonathan and Olive had been coping the best they could. Until Olive starts this imagining…or hallucinating that her mother is still alive.
“You aren’t trying hard enough”
Jonathan thought he knew everything about Billie. Her traumatic childhood and everything else. But when he starts to learn other things about her life, he wonders just how much she didn’t tell him about her past. They had married after knowing each other for only six weeks. But Jonathan was positive she was right for him. He had felt like she was his missing piece, and HE could give her the love she’d lacked throughout her life.
“For sixteen years, I tried my hardest to live up to that promise: to watch out for her, be her safe harbor. We made a beautiful life together, raised a beloved child, and built a nice home, at which point I must have forgotten my vigilance. Because in the end, I didn’t manage to keep her safe at all”
What happened to Billie? Was she kidnapped? Is she dead? Or is it possible that Olive is right and her mother is still alive?
I wouldn’t really say WATCH ME DISAPPEAR is a thriller, but more of a character driven family drama. Which isn’t a bad thing. It was a very interesting story with a satisfying amount of mystery and suspense.
Overall a solid, entertaining novel. There were some good twists. I found the characters believable, flawed, and some not all that likeable. But they were intriguing. Though it may have been a bit slow-paced at first, it picked up and soon I was immersed in the well-written and quite moving story. I had to find out what happened to Billie. But not only that, I really wanted to know how things worked out for Olive and Jonathan too.
” Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are”
This was my first read from Janelle Brown but definitely won’t be my last.
Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.