Select one of the keywords
The Year She Disappeared    by Ann Harleman order for
Year She Disappeared
by Ann Harleman
Order:  USA  Can
University of Texas, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In this superb new novel about choices, responsibilities, and the capacity for love from award-winning author Ann Harleman, readers are introduced to Nan Mulholland, a sixty-year old grandmother who is embarking on a life-changing odyssey for the most unselfish of reasons. Nan's daughter Alex alleges in confidence to her mother that Alex's husband Gabriel has been sexually abusing their four-year old daughter Jane; feeling powerless to intervene herself and unable to protect her daughter, Alex begs her mother Nan to kidnap Jane and take her to safety, far away from their home in Seattle.

So, after much worrying about what she should do, a paranoid but determined Nan - feeling like a most-wanted-list criminal - takes Jane to Providence, Rhode Island, where Nan hopes to visit for a while with her lifelong friend, Geraldine (Deenie) Horsfal.

And so it begins. With an increasingly restless and homesick four-year old girl in tow, Nan is on the run and anxious to protect and hide her granddaughter from the apparently monstrous father. But when Nan and Jane arrive in Providence, all of Nan's and Alex's carefully made plans begin falling apart: Deenie Horsfal has vanished without a trace; Gabriel, Nan believes, is pursuing his kidnapped daughter; and - exacerbating her deteriorating situation - Nan is running out of money, Jane is becoming more difficult, and - nearly eclipsing all other concerns - Alex has apparently also gone on the run and can no longer communicate with Nan.

Mitigating the problems, though, is the warmth and comfort from Nan's newfound friends, Nan's surprising changes in lifestyle, and - most surprising to Nan herself - her new love interest, Walker Tice, a man with a surprising background and impressive resourcefulness.

All the mitigation in the world, however, cannot prepare Nan for her confrontation with Gabriel and the legal system; facing the unstoppable and impersonal power of the courts, and resolved to protect Jane in spite of all odds and costs, Nan must make a horrible choice: surrender Jane or go to prison. There is, however, one other alternative. Nan will surprise even herself when she finally chooses that radical option.

Like a perfectly imagined coming-of-age story featuring a late-blooming baby-boomer, The Year She Disappeared succeeds as a provocative, funny, powerful, tender, and treasure-filled love story told with a lyrical intensity too rarely found in contemporary literature. Readers will almost certainly embrace this finely crafted tale of a woman who explores all sorts of new possibilities in her passion-filled, purpose-driven life.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews