Bookshots: 'You Disappear' by Christian Jungersen
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
Who wrote it?
Christian Jungersen, whose 3rd novel follows in the footsteps of his first two, which were both multiple-award winning bestsellers.
Plot in a Box:
What's worse than discovering your husband's brain injury has turned him into a criminal sociopath? Falling for his defense lawyer.
Invent a new title for this book:
Who Lies Beside Me
Read this if you liked:
The Exception by Christian Jungersen, Where Evil Lies by Jorgen Brekke, Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville
Meet the book’s lead:
Mia, who fights to prove her husband's innocence while wondering if their marriage itself has been a lie.
Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:
Cate Blanchett: The Oscar-winning actress would be a shoo-in with her depth, range and Nordic looks.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
West Farum is a town outside of Copenhagen with lakes, bike paths and lovely old houses. The idyllic backdrop of the "perfect" life Mia is fighting to save.
What was your favorite sentence?
...I never imagined that this secret world existed, tens of thousands of homes where there was brain-damage in the family...It's as if I'm in some film, where suddenly I can see all the ghosts who walk among us.
It's just not Mia's year.
First, she discovers that her husband Frederik's increasingly erratic behavior is caused by a brain injury. The injury alters everything—his personality, inhibitions, even his scent. Soon after, Frederik is accused of embezzling millions of crowns from the private school at which he is headmaster. The ensuing scandal renders their family outcasts, suspects and, if the school’s legal team has their way, they will soon be homeless to boot. Mia throws herself into research on brain injuries to prep for Frederik’s court battle. Meanwhile, she must contend with a husband who subsists on jam sandwiches and toddler tantrums, and cheerfully allows his teenage son to build a fire in the yard.
Desperate for solace, she joins a support group for spouses of the brain-injured. Here she meets Bernard. His experience with his own brain-damaged wife makes him the perfect attorney to take on Frederik’s case. His understanding of Mia’s loneliness, however, makes him the perfect threat to her and Frederik’s marriage.
You Disappear is the best book I’ve read all year. Ok, it’s the first book I’ve read all year, but still. Jungersen’s prose is alternately spare and lyrical, making this a page-turner where entire passages stay with you.
It’s also subtly chilling. Excerpts from neurological studies, philosophical debates, and drawings from brain-damaged patients draw us into Mia’s growing obsession with learning more about Frederik’s injury. Soon, she sees evidence of damage everywhere, even in the normal teenage moodiness of her son. Unfortunately, that same obsession blinds her to the real reason her new-found happiness with Bernard could be too good to be true.
Jungersen’s crafted a skillful tale, full of both plot twists and new twists on age-old questions. I highly recommend You Disappear, and will be reading Jungersen’s second novel, The Exception pretty soon.
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