The Act of Disappearing

Image of The Act of Disappearing: A Novel
Release Date: 
March 5, 2024
Reviewed by: 

“The Art of Disappearing provides enough clues to see where the story is going without disappointing the reader at the end.”

With one book to her name, a menial job as a bartender, and no money in the bank, Julia White’s life is not exciting. That is until she is approached by Jonathan Aster, a well-known photographer, with a job offer.

He shows her a picture “. . . the tiny figure of a woman suspended in air—captured in the liminal space between life and death—falling to the black waters below. If you squint, you may even see what she holds in her arms . . . a swaddled baby.”

Jonathan wants to hire Julia to write the story of the young woman whose death dive he photographed and he wants her story recorded—Julia is the writer he has chosen for the job.

The information he provides is minimal—she needs to learn the details on her own.

Thus starts Nathan Gower’s newest book, The Art of Disappearing, and Gower takes the reader on a journey of research that travels from 1947 to the present and then back to the early 1960s where the reader meets Kathryn Fairchild, a young teenage girl who suffers bullies because of her mother’s mental challenges and her father’s inability to cope well.

Gower moves the story back and forth through time with ease, as Julia begins to unravel the picture of a small town, a challenged mother, a bullied daughter, and an unexpected pregnancy.

But don’t get ahead of the story.

The story expands with a baby brother not anticipated nor expected; another pregnancy, also unexpected; and a desperate young girl who conjures up a plan for her own redemption. The plan involves the help of her best friend, Jack Chandler, and a dive off a bridge with a baby swaddled in her arms.

But Gower doesn’t make it that easy for Julia. Kathryn’s story is deep and dark and her resolution plan is a maze of twists and turns—especially for Julia.

Julia’s own life has been marked with disappointments and loss and as her research deepens, so does her attachment with, and understanding of Kathryn’s challenges.

Gower has created a gathering of well-developed characters with whom the reader can associate.  While there are times throughout the story when Gower’s description is lengthy and somewhat distracting, on the whole he uses words to paint a strong picture that the reader will find exciting.

The Art of Disappearing provides enough clues to see where the story is going without disappointing the reader at the end.