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"It really had been just a matter of minutes. One minute, she had thought she was okay; and the next minute, her life just fell apart around her, fell away from her, like the sections of a tangerine when you put it down after removing the peel."

Alice is vanishing slowly --- willing herself to die, refusing to eat, getting thinner and more transparent, sometimes floating away from her body. The only thing keeping her rooted in reality is her roommate, Rex, who is in remission from a disease that will eventually kill him. Alice has control; she does not have to eat. Rex has no control over whether or not he will die.

Everything started when her mother and father filed for divorce. Her mother married Nat, who abuses Alice. She is shunted back and forth between her mother and father. Her life falls apart while she is living with her father and Nana. When Alice comes down with a bad case of bronchitis, Nana decides she can no longer cope with Alice's illness and says that Alice must leave.

"Alice would no longer be living there, her father said. That was it. That fast. No questions, no tests, no arguments... But Alice had a few things to say, and she froze her father, standing at the foot of the bed, with the first. 'If you send me back I'll die, Dad.'"

However, Dad packs her suitcase anyway and puts her on a plane headed back to her alcoholic mother and Nat. Her bronchitis becomes worse on the plane, and she is rushed to a hospital where she meets her roommate, Rex. They become friends, exploring the hospital and talking about Alice's need to prove that she can control whether or not she goes back to her mother by not eating. Rex's probing questions and comical point of view could bring her back to life.

When Rex goes into a coma, Alice decides she must see him, but to do that she must break her fast. Will she be able to reverse the starvation process in time to be with her dying friend? And, if she does recover, will she have to return to her mother and Nat? Will she follow Rex's advice? "Take any life you can. Doesn't matter. Because...just between us, tell you: Dying sucks."

VANISHING by Bruce Brooks tells a story that explores the oldest and biggest issues --- love, death, and taking charge of one's life.

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on June 4, 1999

by Bruce Brooks

  • Publication Date: June 4, 1999
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0060282363
  • ISBN-13: 9780060282363