The Disapparation of James

The Disapparation of James

by Anne Ursu


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The Woodrow family is at the circus to celebrate Greta's seventh birthday. When a clown asks for a volunteer from the audience, the parents are shocked when James, their extremely shy five-year-old, raises his hand. James thrives in the spotlight, and as the clown leads him through the routine, the parents glow with pride as the audience cheers for their son. The cheers turn into thundering applause as the act culminates in spectacular fashion, with James vanishing before their very eyes. The trouble is that James really does vanish—poof—into thin air.

As the police and media descend on the Woodrows, they feel that the laws of the universe have shattered. How can you solve a puzzle with no logic? As young Greta sets out to discover what really happened to her brother, each family member grapples with the joys and perils of loving, the persistence of loss, and the magic of everyday life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786886630
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 01/28/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Anne Ursu is the author of Spilling Clarence. She has worked at a major book retailer, as the theater critic for City Pages (Minneapolis), and as an arts writer for the Portland Phoenix (Maine). She lives in Mountain View, California.

Reading Group Guide

1. Why do you think the book is called "The Disapparation of James" instead "The Disappearance of James?"

2. What is the role of magic in the novel? How "real" is the world in which the novel takes place?

3. What do you think of the relationship between Hannah and Justin at the beginning on the novel? How would you describe it? What happens to their relationship over the course of the novel? How do their roles change in relationship to one another?

4. What is the effect of the "Saturday That Never Happened" chapter? Why do you think the author chose to include it?

5. Describe the relationship between Hannah and her sister. What clues do we have as to its history, and how it's gotten this way? What happens to Catherine and her relationship to Hannah over the course of the novel?

6. There are a number of references to fairy tales and children’s books in the novel. How is this story like and unlike a fairy tale?

7. There are a number of dreams in the book. What do they reveal about the characters? What do you think their role in the book is? Why might the author have chosen to include them?

8. How do our perceptions of Mike the Clown change over the course of the novel? How do they relate to the other characters' perceptions of him?

9. How does this experience change the adult characters in the book -- Hannah, Justin, and Tom? Where have they begun and where do they end up?

10. What do you think about Tom's progression through the novel? What makes him react the way he does? How do you feel about his actions?

11. Why do you think the author chose not to reveal what happened to James? If the book had portrayed James's experience, what do you think it might have been?

12. Why do you think the novel ends the way it does? Where the story leave us? What do you think the novel is trying to say about the nature of love and family?

13. Where do you think the characters will go from here?

Customer Reviews

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The Disapparation Of James 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Eliz12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very curious and disappointing book.Ursu is a good, though not dazzling writer. The story begins brilliantly, but left me questioning and unsatisfied.I didn't find this a memorable exploration of character - people behaved pretty much the way I thought anyone would - and the reader is left with too many questions. I don't need everything explained, but to raise a huge, unbelievable mystery - and then offer no explanation?
goose114 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How a family deals with the disappearance of their son. A fun read that makes you suspect everything from the worst to the supernatural.
novelnympho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of James and his disappearance and how each of the family members deals with very different emotions and each of their perspectives. The story was engaging enough to keep my interest but I was very disappointed in the overall story. I wish I had not wasted my time.
davidabrams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
alanna1122 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best novels I have read in a very long time. It is strange, suspenseful and beautiful all at the same time.
sdave001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an absolutely wonderful book. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book but I'm certainly glad I gave it a shot. The characters are amazing and the story is incredibly unique and enthralling. The premise is so unusual that I never knew what to expect as I turned the pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was awesome and quite a page turner. It's great that the story moves along by each chapter being by a different character's perspective. Truly a great, creative story
Guest More than 1 year ago
A flawless novel in which a little boy vanishes during a night out with his family. The consequences which follow plague everyone. Your empathy for the family never waivers as you read about the disappearance through the eyes of James's mother, father, sister, and the police officer assigned to protect the family in the aftermath. An amazing novel that deserves more attention.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Takes an unlikely--indeed unbelievable--premise and makes out of it a thoroughly charming and wonderful story. Surprising, compassionate and gripping. I nearly had to put it down because I couldn't stand to find out what happened to James. But then, of course, I couldn't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rarely do I say this about a book and I read probably 1 book every 10 days. This one was exceptional -- a stunning debut by an incredibly talented writer. I do not have any children of my own and felt as though I was suffering as a parent right along with James' parents. This book exemplifies what really good fiction is all about. Kudos to you, Anne!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Innovative and moving, Ms. Ursu flirts with possibilities in the most haunting of ways. How do we dare to love in a world where loss is everwhere? Daring fiction at its finest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
you want to be completely bored! This book is poorly written, predictable and long winded. The disorganization and lame dialogue make this one of the worst books I have ever read! I do NOT recommend this to anyone, and see it as a huge waste of time.