New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her ability to tap into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she explores what happens when a young woman's past -- a past she didn't even know she had -- catches up to her just in time to threaten her future.
Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father, Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can't recall. And then a policeman knocks on her door, revealing a secret that changes the world as she knows it.
In shock and confusion, Delia must sift through the truth -- even when it jeopardizes her life and the lives of those she loves. What happens when you learn you are not who you thought you were? When the people you've loved and trusted suddenly change before your eyes? When getting your deepest wish means giving up what you've always taken for granted? Vanishing Acts explores how life -- as we know it -- might not turn out the way we imagined; how doing the right thing could mean doing the wrong thing; how the memory we thought had vanished could return as a threat. Once again, Jodi Picoult handles a difficult and timely topic with understanding, insight, and compassion.
Delia Hopkins was six years old when her father allowed her to be his assistant in the amateur magic act he performed at the local senior center's annual Christmas pageant. "I learned a lot that night," recalls Delia, who is now 32, at the start of Picoult's absorbing new novel (her 12th, after My Sister's Keeper). "That people don't vanish into thin air...." She has come to know this even better as an adult: she makes her living finding missing people with her own search-and-rescue bloodhound. As she prepares for her wedding, however, Delia has a flash of memory that is so vivid yet so wildly out-of-place among the other memories from her idyllic New Hampshire upbringing that she describes it to a childhood friend, who happens to be a reporter. Soon, her whole world and the world of the widowed father she adores is turned upside down. Her marriage to her toddler's father, a loving but still struggling recovering alcoholic, is put on hold as she is forced to conduct a search-and-rescue mission on her own past and identity. It will cut to the heart of what she holds to be true and good. As in previous novels, Picoult creates compelling, three-dimensional characters who tell a story in alternating voices about what it might mean to be a good parent and a good person, to be true to ourselves and those we love. Picoult weaves together plot and characterization in a landscape that is fleshed out in rich, journalistic detail, so that readers will come away with intriguing questions rather than pat answers.
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Showing 1-3 of the 3 most recent reviews
1 . Aweful content!
Posted June 22, 2010 by Angela , MonctonThis is one of the worst books I have had the misfortune of reading. I had to skip over most of it because it was graphic and gory, just grose. Dont bother.
2 . Just to much detail
Posted February 14, 2010 by Debbiek007 , FresnoHad a hard time getting through this book, matter a fact skipped to the back just to see
how it ends (something I never do).
3 . Extraordinary tale
Posted April 27, 2007 by dawner85 , Elgin, ILEver wonder what it would be like to wake up and find out your whole world has changed? That's what happens to Delia in this book about romance, tragedy and the choices parents make for their children. You will explore emotions you have never considered while reading this book. And, the relationships will keep you guessing!
November 14, 2005
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Excerpt from Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
I was six years old the first time I disappeared.
My father was working on a magic act for the annual Christmas show at the senior center, and his assistant, the receptionist who had a real gold tooth and false eyelashes as thick as spiders, got the flu. I was fully prepared to beg my father to be part of the act, but he asked, as if I were the one who would be doing him a favor.
Like I said, I was six, and I still believed that my father truly could pull coins out of my ear and find a bouquet of flowers in the folds of Mrs. Kleban's chenille housecoat and make Mr. van Looen's false teeth disappear. He did these little tricks all the time for the elderly folks who came to play bingo or do chair aerobics or watch old black-and-white movies with soundtracks that crackled like flame. I knew some parts of the act were fake -- his fiddlehead mustache, for example, and the quarter with two heads -- but I was one hundred percent sure that his magic wand had the ability to transport me into some limbo zone, until he saw fit to call me back.
On the night of the Christmas show, the residents of three different assisted-living communities in our town braved the cold and the snow to be bused to the senior center. They sat in a semicircle watching my father while I waited backstage. When he announced me -- the Amazing Cordelia! -- I stepped out wearing the sequined leotard I usually kept in my dress-up bin.
I learned a lot that night. For example, that part of being the magician's assistant means coming face-to-face with illusion. That invisibility is really just knotting your body in a certain way and letting the black curtain fall over you. That people don't vanish into thin air; that when you can't find someone, it's because you've been misdirected to look elsewhere.