PH Blog Tour: How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat (Review)

Hello my fellow bookish wanderers! Thanks for ambling by here to join me on my stop for the PH Blog Tour of "How to Disappear" by Sharon Huss Roat. Thanks also to Hazel of Stay Bookish for letting me join the roster of Filipino book bloggers on a mission to spread the word about this #mustread. I've already seen reviews from other book bloggers saying good things about this book -- here's one from Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs -- and I am so stoked to share today my thoughts about it with you. But first, let's take a look what the book is about:

How to Disappear
by Sharon Huss Roat

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.

Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date:  August 15th 2017
Source/Format: ARC borrowed from Hazel of Stay Bookish
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository
My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts:
A few pages in and I’m already ugly-crying with reading “How to Disappear”. Chest tight with feels and eyes welled up in tears, I cannot help but relate to Vicky as she is overwhelmed with a sense of abandonment from having left behind by her BFF, Jenna. I know how it feels to be the “weaker” person in a friendship. I know how hopeless it can seem when your friend is like your anchor to life and your gateway to being social but you have to part ways for reasons: moving houses, getting accepted to different colleges, having different jobs. You both promise to be friends forever and to keep in touch but things just never stay the same way.

It's refreshing for me how this book is somewhat a perspective flip of the new kid on the block trope. I have already read a handful of YA contemporary books dealing with this transferee student and how he/she copes with new school, new people, new everything. But what about the friend that the transferee teen left behind? What’s his/her story? How will he/she cope? I am so lucky to have read this one and get to know Vicky as she treads the path from being #alone and wanting to fly under the radar all the time to #seeme and being okay to let people surround and support her. I like Vicky and her shy, quiet kindness. I perfectly understand why she feels the need to disappear and hide under the guise of a virtual identity.

The supporting characters of the book are likable as well. The romantic subplot has a love interest who is funny and clumsy in an adorable way. There is a well-meaning but meddling helicopter mother. And some stereotype-defying characters: popular kids who are nice, a loud friendly student who is in the funk sometimes, a seemingly perfect student who has her own fair share of pain. Plus, there are two cats in the book! I love anything that has cats in it.

Re-creating a scene where Vicky avoids attending a party by attempting to hide in the shrubs. She got found by a cat.
P.S. I suck at taking photos, but whatevs.

I am sure “How to Disappear” will be a hit among a lot of young readers. They will more or less find themselves in Vicky or in one of the characters in the book. This story is fitted for the social media generation: the people in fandoms who consider their Facebook groups an online home, the people whose existence is validated when their favorite celebrities interact with them in Twitter, the people who stalk cool people in Instagram. The book is like a virtual hug to its social media obsessed readers. Some people (and books) look down on the youth’s weird affinity with social media. This book, however, depicts Vicky's relationship with social media with care and empathy, never condescending on her decision to hide through Vicurious, her online persona. To be honest, although I am already a full-grown adult, I also vent, seek a little appreciation and even cry for help online. I am one of the “shallow” people whose day gets made by a sincerely kind comment on my posts (please don’t judge me, thanks), so it’s not a surprise that this book got to me.

Some might dismiss a story of a socially awkward girl turned social media sensation as a bit of a stretch. But for those of us who read to live vicariously in books with daydreams and happy endings, this book is .

Diversity Watch:
Vicky and her bestfriend, Jenna are white.

Adrian Ahn is one of the popular students in Vicky’s school. He is part-Korean. He is in a band and has a number of fans in school. In one occasion, the book mentioned three freshmen admirers following him around: two girls and one boy.

Raj Radhakrishnan is one of the students in Vicky’s school. His name suggests Indian heritage. Two unnamed Indian students are mentioned walking the hallways of the school while Raj is attempting to talk to them.
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