BOOK REVIEW: How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat

Format: Hardback, giveaway prize
Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Goodreads
Blurb: Vicky Decker has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight, quietly navigating the halls of her high school undetected except by her best (and only) friend, Jenna. But when Jenna moves away, Vicky’s isolation becomes unbearable.

So she decides to invent a social life by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures, posting them on Instagram under the screen name Vicurious. Instantly, she begins to get followers, so she adds herself to more photos from all over the world with all types of people. And as Vicurious’s online followers multiply, Vicky realizes she can make a whole life for herself without ever leaving her bedroom. But the more followers she finds online, the clearer it becomes that there are a lot of people out there who feel like her— #alone and #ignored in real life.

To help them, and herself, Vicky must find the courage to face her fear of being “seen,” because only then can she stop living vicariously and truly bring the magic of Vicurious to life.

In this beautiful and illuminating narrative, Sharon Huss Roat shines a light on our love of social media and how sometimes being the person you think you want to be isn’t as great as being the person you truly are.


Review: I’d seen this book floating around on Twitter for quite a while and was intrigued so when I saw the author running a giveaway to win a copy, I thought I’d enter. It’ll come to no surprise that I won a copy – yay. So first of all, thank you to Sharon for running that giveaway and sending me a gorgeous hardback copy along with a selection of bookmarks with quotes on. It’s much appreciated. I was really eager to start this because I loved the title and the blurb got me really curious. I liked the fact that Instagram played a big part in the story – something I’m obviously very aware of. I love YA and I love books about mental health which, judging by the blurb, sounded like it would feature. So I got stuck right in. 

Quick run-down: Vicky’s best and only friend Jenna, moves away. Jenna was Vicky’s spare arm, basically. She kept painful shy and socially awkward Vicky grounded in a world that she was terrified of. So naturally, having that one comfort move away has an affect on Vicky. She has no friends in school, is terrified of the thought of trying to make any and knows full well that she’s mostly invisible to the outside world. So when she finds out that Jenna is making new friends, getting a boyfriend and unfortunately, feels like she’s been forgotten by her old best friend, Vicky creates an Instagram account called Vicurious. She never reveals it’s her – obviously. But she uses this account to photo-shop herself into photos and give herself a life, basically.

However what Vicky didn’t anticipate was the account growing – quite rapidly. Hundreds, then thousands then even millions of followers later, Vicky has created an online community of people who all feel invisible – like her. People who need help, advice, someone to talk to or just to tell them that someone is there for them. Okay, so I had a bit of an up and down relationship with this book at first. Before starting it, I was like yes! This is going to be awesome. Upon starting it and the first few chapters, my enthusiasm dwindled a bit. I was enjoying it but I thought maybe it read a bit too YA for me and my preferences? But the more I got into it, the more invested I was. I couldn’t put it down at times. 

It’s a very, very easy read – as expected with it being YA however I would be a bit wary if you’re not familiar with Instagram and online culture. You might be a bit lost with the terminology. But saying that, what person reading this book won’t be familiar with that? I did really enjoy the story-line – despite it being deeply unrealistic – I liked it. I loved the message behind it. I loved how the story came together and the trials and tribulations that Vicky faces, especially at the end. But Vicky herself was my main crutch for this story. I felt for Vicky so much and the author manages to create a character you either sympathise with or relate to. I definitely felt like I could somewhat relate to some parts of Vicky’s life and personality.

I often feel like I’m hiding behind a screen – with my blog and how I come across on Twitter. I’m 100 times more confident online than I am in real life. I hate attention – all someone has to do is ask me a question about something to do with me and I get all hot and bothered and want to change the subject as quickly as possible. In real life, I’m very much a person who prefers to be behind the scenes of things, just there but not really in the spotlight. And although Vicky’s shyness and social anxiety is much more extreme than mine, I still know how she feels. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where I’ve so deeply and confidently understood how a character feels before. I also understand her need for people to see her and see her as something else, something more. I make my life a million times more interesting online than it really is.

The mental health aspect of this book was handled really, really well. And I’m really happy about that. Vicky’s reactions to things are things I can understand and have happened to me before. People’s reactions to Vicky are also very realistic. For a huge chunk of the book, I had a real issue with Vicky’s mum. She was infuriating and down right toxic at times for Vicky’s mental health. Especially a scene where Vicky is literally having a panic attack in the car, going to a party that she doesn’t want to go to and all her mum kept shouting was, “you’ve got to face your fears!”. Clearly, Vicky’s mum had no idea what Vicky was going through, how to approach it or how to help. Undoubtedly, everyone with social anxiety will have come across someone like that in their life. I was going to make the “mum thing” a bad point for my review but during a very emotional scene near the end of the book, all was forgiven and I totally understood why the author had approached this the way she did.

Okay, this is getting pretty long now so I’ll round it up. I loved this book – it had a few little niggles but on a whole, I really enjoyed it. I even enjoyed Vicky’s romance with Lipton and if you know me, I hate romance or lovey dovey things in books but I think this was handled really well because it in no way took away from the actual message of the story. It was a nice extra which complimented the story well. Anyway, if you like YA, books about mental health or Instagram, this is definitely for you. A really well-rounded, moving book (which made me cry twice) with exceptionally important messages about loneliness, anxiety, friendship, love and learning how to live on your own terms.

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33 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat

  1. Any book that can make you cry/effect you on such a personal level is always a good book (if it makes you cry for the right reasons, that is…). This sounds like a lovely read!

  2. I haven’t heard of this author or the book (where have I been?) but what an interesting topic for a book. And it sounds as if Sharon Roat has approached the whole social media / mental health debate very sensitively. It’s always so good when you find a book that resonates with you, isn’t it? Great review, Jenny! X

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  3. Sounds like a really interesting topic. I’m always a bit hesitant to pick up young adult fiction because it usually falls flat for me, but this sounds promising. It sounds totally relatable, especially since I love Instagram and always wished my life was more exciting than it is! I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the review!

  4. I hadn’t heard of this book (or the author) but it sounds like a book I would enjoy. Normally I steer clear of YA but from your review, I’m really keen to read this book now. Putting it on the list! x

  5. This actually sounds like a book I would be super interested in especially because of the internet social media basis and the mention of mental health x

    Kayleigh Zara 🌿www.kayleighzaraa.com

  6. This book is one I need to read! The storyline looks so relateable to any millennial. I’ve got a few books on my pile but I’ll add this to my wish list. Great review Jenny, was nice to hear your thoughts.

    Amy | hookedonthemusic.com

  7. I haven’t come across this book, but then I have been reading a bit less YA lately. I might end up reading it though, the Instagram aspect of it does intrigue me.

  8. I love the sound of this book. I’m not sure I’d read it if it’s a little too YA, but I really like the message it seems to be sending out. Even my 9 year old niece has an iPhone and Instagram, so I’d love her to be aware that people usually have a very different life from the one they share online. I’m really glad you enjoyed it!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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