|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
There were times, after he left, when I would see my father go by on the street or look at me from a car windowin fleeting seconds. Then I would realize the trick my mind had played. When I was younger and my cat died, for weeks afterwards, out of the corner of one eye I saw him run through the kitchen or dart under a table making ghost images.
I hadn’t expected him to return, and certainly not in an alley in the middle of a snowstorm to give me a fucking heart attack. Then to see him standing there like a scarecrow. He was so thin, his hair scraggly and almost bald on top, his coat stained. He had this serious bandage on one hand. I thought he was sick or had gotten into a brawl or both. But then he said he had good news and that didn’t sound like cancer or a bar fight to me.
I saw how sorry he was about things. He even told me he liked my hair. I recorded that lie with the Hasselblad and the way he flinchedhe could be pretty straightlaced. The minute he wanted to go over to the deli I knew that if I sat down and heard the whole, miserable story of the last two years, I’d feel sorry for him. I’d feel so sorry I’d do whatever I could to drop the hard days he had handed us like a collection of broken tools we could neither fix nor throw out until he got home. But then, as we were sitting in that booth, I thought about it again. And I imagined as soon as he’d walk through the door Mom and Lola would flutter with nerves while I looked on wondering what he was up to. I didn’t want to see them get hurt a second time.
“I brought everyone a little present,” he said. “Just something from the airport. I didn’t have time to plan ahead.”
It occurred to me that his pack contained everything he owned now. He had left the furniture when he went to New Jersey. He had left his share of the wedding china and the silver set, the linen and rugs, the framed art and the lamps, the appliancesall the items we had to sell. He went away light of possessions. He came back thin and empty. We didn’t need empty. We had enough of our own.
When Dad got up from the table and went off to the bathroom to make himself presentable, I knew this was about Mom. And in that moment, I honestly didn’t care who he was if he was going to show up out of the blue and make things harder for her. I felt jumpy and picked up his phone.
He didn’t have any pictures or music or much in the way of apps. He always said he was all thumbs, that it was easier to sit down and write a letter or talk by phone. He didn’t have a password and the number code was the one he always used: 5050. I started to scroll through, saw the name Edie, and had no idea who that was. I heard the door to the men’s bathroom open. I saw him pay the check at the register and make arrangements with the waitress to wrap the food. Sliding back into the booth he placed his things in his pack, held it up and then seemed to realize how damp it was on the bottom. He wiped the seat and rested the pack on the floor again.
As he stirred his coffee, I had this picture in my mind of cutting the ropes to the bottom of his feet and watching him drift off, getting smaller and smaller.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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!
When We Disappear by Lise Haines is a highly recommended novel about a disintegrating family. It is 2007 and Mona's family has fallen on hard times. Her father, Richard, lost his job and now has left his family (Liz, his wife, and daughters Mona, 17, and Lola, 3) in Illinois to go to New Jersey for a new job. Now Liz, a sculptor, needs to curtail her art to work to support the girls. Lola is young, but Mona is old enough to resent her father leaving without saying goodbye. But then, Mona stopped listening to her father's stories years ago. Now he sends money, but it is never enough. He sends postcards to Lola and letters to Mona. Mona lives through her photography, starts and affair with an older photographer, and rejects her father's stories. The narrative switches between chapters from Mona and Richard's points-of-view. We know how both characters feel and what they are both experiences. We see the whole family falling apart, struggling, yet not openly talking to each other and telling the truth about what is going on in all their lives. Part of Mona's anger and resentment toward her father goes back years ago to an incident, an accident, that happened when she was with her father and something they never discussed with her mother. The writing is excellent in When We Disappear, and Haines captures both Mona's and Richard's individual inner voices with perfection. Both Mona and Richard are well-developed characters and we can clearly see their individual efforts to endure their pain and how they are trying to cope with their situations. Mona's photography helps sustain her and she tries to be strong for her mother and Lola. Richard is hurting more than he is admitting. This is a very emotional novel, however, it is difficult to see these wounded struggling people close themselves off from each other for much of the book and not sharing the reality of what they are all going through. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Unbridled Books.