How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish
English | 2020 | Children/Young Adult | ePUB | 2.6 MB
Wonder meets Some Kind of Happiness in this powerful tween novel from Ali Standish, author of the Carnegie Medal nominee The Ethan I Was Before and August Isle.
While her grandmother was alive, Emma’s world was filled with enchantment. But now Gram is gone, and suddenly strange spots are appearing on Emma’s skin. Soon, she’s diagnosed with vitiligo-a condition that makes patches of her skin lose their color-and the magic in her world is suddenly replaced with school bullies and doctor appointments.
But when Emma writes one last story in the journal she shared with Gram, something strange happens. Someone writes back to her, just like Gram used to. Who’s writing to Emma? And just what is her story going to be, now that everything is so different?
Award-winning author Ali Standish explores the ways life transforms us, and how we learn to let go of what we must while still holding fast to who we are.
After the service, Gram’s ashes are buried next to Grandpa’s, under an old oak tree. Their grave is just one row up from the grave of a woman named Isabella Fortune, who was born eight years before Gram but died when she was only twenty-four, which doesn’t sound very fortunate to me. I asked Gram about her once, and she said that Isabella had been one of her favorite teachers before she’d gotten sick and died. Now the grass around her grave is overgrown and dotted with weeds.
People keep saying we should be grateful that Gram led a long and happy life, and I guess that’s true. But as we stand over the gravestone she will share with Grandpa, listening to Ruth blow her nose, I imagine that the stone belongs to someone else. To two strangers. I pretend that Gram is standing right next to me, her whispered words crackling in my ear.
“What do you reckon?” she would say. “What carried these poor souls away?”
“Maybe he came home when his wife was doing one of those face masks,” I’d murmur back. “The kind that Lily and Mom do. And the sight of it was so scary it gave him a heart attack.”
“Yes. And he was lonely in the grave, so one night his ghost got up, walked back to the house, and whispered, ‘boo,’ in his wife’s ear. Scared her right to death.”
“And now they’re even.”
The minister clears his throat, and the image of Gram fades away. I realize that a smile has snuck onto my face and wrestle it off.
Most people follow us back to Gram’s house once we’re done in the graveyard, although some of them go their separate ways.
Lanternwood has only one main street, High Street, which curves in a slow horseshoe, sandwiched by the river on one side and farmland on the other. From Gram’s front yard, you can see the church—with its wobbly steeple and ancient bell—to the left, and the village hall—with its cheery red brick and bulletin board—to the right. In between the two are old, pretty houses that seem to shine in the sunlight like charms on a giant bracelet, linked together by the flower gardens that spill over their neat picket fences.
And Gram’s house is the best of them all.
Actually, it’s called a cottage—kind of like how Lanternwood is technically a town, but everyone calls it the village. There’s even a white sign that hangs just over the fence outside the house that says “Morning Glory Cottage” in big handwritten letters. It’s named for the morning glory vines (I know, big surprise) that have climbed around the door, all the way up the white walls to the sloping roof.
Mom, Dad, Lily, and I officially moved in at the beginning of the summer, when Gram finally told us how sick she was. We used to live forty miles away, but Gram needed to be taken care of, and Mom wanted a bigger house. So now we live here, in Morning Glory Cottage, where six generations of my family have lived before us, including Gram’s father, who was once the mayor of the village.