Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Thank you, Henry Holt, for the gifted book! {partner}

Genre: Fiction
Trope: Coming-of-Age
Format: 📖
Pub Date: 5.17.2022
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆


The summer before Sally Holt starts the eighth grade begins as a gloriously uneventful one. It’s full of family trips to the beach and long afternoons at the local pool with her older sister Kathy, which they mostly use as an excuse to ogle Billy Barnes, who works the concession stand there. A rising senior and local basketball star, Billy has been an unending source of intrigue for both girls since he jumped off the school roof in fifth grade, and their fascination with him is one of the few things the increasingly different sisters have in common. By summer’s end Billy and Kathy are an item—an unthinkable stroke of luck that ends in an even more unthinkable tragedy.

Set over the course of fifteen years, Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is narrated by Sally as she addresses Kathy before, during, and after her death. We watch as Kathy’s absence creates a gaping hole that only Billy—now firmly off-limits to Sally—understands and might possibly begin to fill. Charting years of their shared history and missed connections, Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is both a breathtaking love story between two broken people who are unexplainably, inconveniently drawn to each other, and a wry, sharply observant coming-of-age story that looks at the ways the people we love the most continue to shape our lives long after they’re gone.”

Book Review:

“All of a sudden, you want an answer for every question you never thought to ask them.”

What a beautiful coming-of-age story!

There was something so cathartic about reading this book. It was filled with sadness, loss, and grief, but it was also full of everything that a teenager growing up in the 90s would experience. It took me back to my childhood, and I saw a lot of myself in Sally and Kathy.

While the story had a slower beginning, it really fit with the story’s tone. Eventually, I was drawn in and couldn’t put the book down. I felt like the entire novel was one long letter to Kathy after her death. You know that Kathy dies, but you aren’t told how. Then slowly, in a countdown that only the reader is aware of, you wait for the inevitable moment when you know that no one will be the same again.

Alison Espach did a spectacular job of showing how grief can impact a family – it’s a reminder that there is no right or wrong way to mourn the death of someone. In one part, Sally talks about not wanting to leave the funeral home because that’s where Kathy is, and I related so much to this feeling. You don’t want to just leave them there, alone. The book was full of several moments just like this, and although they were tough to read, they gave me a deeper connection to the characters.

📝 Felt like a letter written to her sister
🥺 Intimate look at grief within a family
👧🏽 Very relatable to growing up in the 90s

❌ – attempted suicide

I couldn’t get enough of Espach’s writing and how she could articulate so many emotions in such vivid detail. I felt like I was brought in on the most intimate and delicate moments of someone’s life.

And the ending? Well, that was absolutely perfect.

Make sure you add Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance to your reading list when it publishes next May 17th!

Book Info
Format: 338 pages, Paperback
Published: May 17, 2022 by Henry Holt
ISBN 9781250823144 (ISBN10: 1250823145)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Henry Holt , in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

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