YOU DISAPPEAR by Christian Jungersen

Book Quote:

“We whoosh down between dark ­rock-­faces, through hairpin turns, down and around past dry scrub,  silver-­pale trees and back up, then over a ridge where the car nearly leaves ground and Niklas and I whoop as our entrails become weightless.

The hot Mediterranean air buffets our faces, for all four windows are open. Frederik takes a curve so fast that I grab my headrest. The sea beneath us keeps switching left and right.

Normally Frederik’s never brave behind the wheel, so I try not to be afraid. And the heat makes the rocks steeper, darker, the lemon groves prickling even more tartly in my nose, the sea shining blue like I’ve never seen it before.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky  (FEB 4, 2014)

In Christian Jungersen’s You Disappear, translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra, forty-two year old Mia Halling’s life will never be the same following a family vacation in Majorca. Mia notices that her husband, Frederik, who is at the wheel of their rental car, is speeding through hairpin turns like a madman. She implores him to slow down, to no avail. Although they crash, they manage to survive. What should have been a relaxing and enjoyable holiday nearly ends in tragedy.

Frederik’s behavior in Spain is just the tip of an iceberg that threatens to irrevocably damage the Hallings’ ability to communicate. It seems that Halling has a brain tumor that manifests itself in bizarre changes in his speech, actions, and emotional responses. A complete recovery is far from certain. Thus begins a lengthy ordeal that Jungersen describes in excruciating detail. Mia and Frederik live together, but they might as well be on different planets. Their son, seventeen-year-old, Niklas, is frightened and confused. In addition, when revelations emerge about Frederik’s unsavory activities while he was the headmaster of a private school in Copenhagen, it becomes horrifyingly obvious that the Hallings’ troubles have just begun.

You Disappear is far more than a conventional tale of domestic angst. Jungersen is an accomplished and daring writer who challenges us to ponder weighty topics such as free will and the mind-body connection. In addition, he poses a question that has no clear-cut answer: What does a spouse owe to a husband or wife who can no longer function normally? Mia is frustrated, angry, guilt-ridden, and lonely, knowing that the person she married is unable to provide her with the love, caring, and companionship that she desperately needs. To help her deal with her battered psyche, she joins a support group and reads extensively about brain injuries. Excerpts from her findings are inserted in key points of the book, giving us a window into her thoughts.

Jungersen creates fully developed characters, writes evocatively and perceptively about sensitive topics, and offers provocative theories about what makes each of us who we are. Mia, the narrator, reveals her most intimate and embarrassing thoughts and deeds, as well as her dreams, memories, and fantasies. She had a difficult childhood and her marriage to Frederik was imperfect, even prior to his diagnosis. Readers will empathize with this woman who is torn between her duty to her impaired husband and her desire to have a partner who understands and cares for her. This is a grim novel with little humor and few lighthearted moments. However, it is filled with enlightening information about how brain injuries affect both the victims and their loved ones. Mia describes her existence as an “endless grey corridor of disheartening days, days that look like they’ll last the rest of your life.” “You Disappear” is recommended for its poignant, compassionate, and uncompromising look at how people cope (or fail to cope) when they are in danger of losing everything that they cherish.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 28readers
PUBLISHER: Nan A. Talese (January 7, 2014)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Christian Jungersen
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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February 4, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Denmark, Family Matters, Psychological Suspense, Translated, y Award Winning Author

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