4 August 2022

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

This is another one of those random fiction books I ordered in an Amazon frenzy because I saw it on a "best new novels" list. I also remember being swayed by two things: the first edition hard cover (which I did not get) and that the plot was set in remote Russia. 

Disappearing Earth is Julia Phillip's first novel and is a little under three hundred pages. The book almost reads like a series of short stories where every character is loosely connected by the same local news story, and the book opens with this central story. 

It starts by following two little girls in eastern Russia who go to the beach alone one day and get into a car with a stranger and never come home. The characters in every scene afterwards mention these missing girls a handful of times. 

I thought I would be really interested in this story because losing someone I know to mysterious circumstances is one of my biggest fears. I always felt the uncertainty would potentially kill me within the first week. But I find because the book spends so little time primarily focused on this case, you don't really get to dive deep into those feelings. 

It hurts too much to break your own heart out of stupidity, to leave a door unlocked or a child untended and return to discover that whatever you value most has disappeared. No. You want to be intentional about the destruction. Be a witness. You want to watch how your life will shatter." 

What I ended up enjoying the most about these mostly disconnected stories was learning about such a remote part of Russia. A lot of this book is set on the peninsula Kamchatka and there was a lot of information about some of the indigenous groups native to this part of the country. 

But now she would live. She had to. It was what she did: live while others could not. There was no pleasure in it." 

This book didn't really cut it for me, but if you're also interested in torturing yourself and questioning what you'd do if your loved one went missing, then I would HIGHLY recommend the 1988 Norwegian movie The Vanishing

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