Review: How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Zara thought that she was doing the right thing.

The witness of a horrifying crime, the teenager — with the support of her mother and step father — decides that she’s going to speak out.

But that ends up coming at a heartbreaking cost, as Zara’s identity is revealed — leaving her mum, Lauren, with no other option to keep her daughter safe than to disappear.

No goodbyes. No contact. A whole new life, just for the two of them — and they have to leave everything, and everyone, else that they love behind. Including Aiden, Lauren’s husband and Zara’s step father, who chooses to remain behind to be close to his daughter, Poppy.

Lauren is a devoted mum who would do anything for Zara; but she soon finds herself struggling to cope with their new circumstances, unable to actually be truthful about what’s going on. And Zara’s facing struggles of her own, as she adjusts to figuring how she can fit in while not being able to share the truth.

One of the biggest things I would recommend when it comes to this thriller would be to go in knowing as little about the exact plot as possible — mostly because it makes all the heart-pounding twists and turns much more surprising and enjoyable.

The story is largely told in the ‘Before’ and the ‘After’, from the perspectives of Zara, Lauren, Aiden and his daughter from his previous marriage, Poppy. Each one of them pushed the story forward in a compelling way, are easily to get invested in and, for the most part, are largely likeable (albeit frustrating at certain points).

And the central theme of the story — how far would you go to protect your family — is one that many people will be able to relate to.

I read this all in one sitting, tapping through the pages of my Kindle like my life depended on it. When I got to the end of the novel, I felt like I had been holding my breath for the last hundred-or-so pages, waiting to see how Zara, Lauren and Aiden’s story would come to an end.

And I’ve got to say, it most definitely was not what I expected — can’t remember the last time a thriller left me in floods of tears.