How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat
(Harper Teen – August 15, 2017)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of my top 5 YA books of 2017 and a mandatory read for parents, teachers and administrators, this story of social anxiety, depression and the lure of social media to replace real life is frighteningly real.
BOOK DESCRIPTION (from Goodreads)
Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight, quietly navigating the halls of her high school undetected except by her best (and only) friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable.
So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her— #alone and #ignored in real life.
To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life.
In this beautiful and illuminating narrative, Sharon Huss Roat shines a light on our love of social media and how sometimes being the person you think you want to be isn’t as great as being the person you truly are.
I just want to first give a shoutout to a fellow school librarian Carli Sauer (@the_loudlibrarian on Instagram) for bringing this book to my attention pre-publication – I immediately pre-ordered it for my HS library after reading her “READ THIS BOOK” review of it, and then when it showed up on release day I completely inhaled the entire book that very evening.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR is a book about social anxiety, depression, friendship, dating and most of all, social media. The isolation of today’s teens due to social media, and the ability to create an entirely new identity using it. Instagram is the focus of the book and Roat has written the world of likes, followers and obsessive fixation on it to an absolute T, with the female protagonist Vicky being an incredibly relatable character. I was nodding along with so much of the book and toward the end was reading with tears streaming down my face while I raced through the pages to discover the outcome.
This release of story is perfectly timed for the beginning of a new school year and needs to be read by every adult in every teen’s life. Parents, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, administrators. Teens will love it and relate to it too, of course, but they are already well aware of the world Vicurious inhabits – not all adults are.
In addition, these two articles were published right before the book was released and I read them before I even read the book – they speak of the REAL issues that the book addresses and the timeliness of the text, and are also mandatory reads for adults working with and raising teens: