How to Disappear Completely
by Standish, Ali

When Emma develops vitiligo, a skin condition, shortly after her grandmother's death, it changes her life completely, but when she tries to write in the journal which she and her grandmother shared to write fairy tales, comments like those her grandmother used to write start to appear.

*Starred Review* When Emma discovers the first spot, "like a tiny bright moon" on her left foot, she's sitting in church at the funeral of her grandmother, who had been her best friend as well. Soon other pale areas appear on Emma's face and hands. The diagnosis is vitiligo, a skin condition triggered by stress. When a classmate spreads a rumor that Emma has a highly contagious skin disease, she becomes a pariah, but Fina, a new friend, helps her through that painful period. Mysteriously, someone is continuing Gram's tradition of leaving original enchanted-woodland fantasy narratives for Emma to continue writing. While trying to discover the person's identity, she and Fina uncover surprising secrets from Gram's past. In addition to creating a large, multigenerational cast of three-dimensional characters, Standish knits reality and imagination together seamlessly into an absorbing story of loss, identity, and human connections. Though Emma withdraws during her worst days, she reemerges as a stronger person who is capable of reaching out to others who are in pain. The fantasy narratives, written partly by Emma and partly by her mysterious "pen pal," become a distinguishing feature of the book, separate from the main story, yet integral to it. A rewarding realistic novel, illuminated by magical elements. Grades 5-7. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Shortly after moving to her grandmother's tiny, rural town, a girl develops vitiligo. Emma notices the first spot, like a white freckle, on the day of her grandmother's funeral. Though she's distracted in the following days and weeks by grief and loneliness, missing the grandmother with whom she'd made up stories about fairies in the woods, Emma can't miss the new white spots on her skin, which keep appearing and spreading. Perhaps if she had her sister's and father's "buttercream" skin she could ignore it, but Emma has her mother's "much darker complexion," and the dots are unmistakable. (If Emma's biracial, nothing is made of that fact in the story.) A doctor confirms what Emma's internet search has hinted at: Emma has vitiligo, an autoimmune condition that causes the skin to lose pigment. She's perfectly healthy, she learns, as she spends a chapter reading from a medical pamphlet, relaying helpful and informative excerpts to readers. Unsurprisingly, Emma's vitiligo, combined with being a new kid in school, has led to some vicious bullying in her new seventh grade. What would Emma do without Fina, her new friend? Fina is warm, supportive, and Mexican American, providing comfort, extremely unkidlike counseling, and educational explanations about the Day of the Dead and quinceaƱeras. Emma's troubles and the magical stories she'd told with Gram in the forest come together in a warm and after-school-special-ish Thanksgiving in which even the bully is revealed to be good at heart. As subtle as an extremely heartwarming brick. (Fiction. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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