It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.
But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?
Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.
In Watch Me Disappear, we follow the thoughts and actions of those left behind when Billie Flanagan “dies.” Did she die, though, or did she choose to disappear?
A year later, her beloved friends and family are still struggling with that question. Jonathan is writing a memoir of his life with Billie, but the more he digs into what he knew about her and their life together, he realizes that he has more questions than answers about Billie. Who was she really, and did he even know her at all? She has had a history of disappearing from her life, beginning when she was very young. Has she done the same thing again?
Her daughter Olive was close to Billie, but near the end, there were some troubled spots. Now Olive wants to reach her mother just one more time. When she starts seeing “visions,” she is convinced that Billie is communicating with her.
Our story weaves back and forth in time, with more revelations as the moments pass, and just when we think we know what really happened, a final twist seemingly comes out of nowhere. This book I couldn’t put down earned 5 stars.