An Indie Next pick for June 2022
A USA Today "Must Read"
Named a “Most Anticipated Book of May” by The Millions
“Incongruously funny...Ms. Espach uses irony well.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“Inventive and powerful...Espach captures the minutiae of love and loss with unflinching clarity and profound compassion, and pulls off the second-person point of view unusually well. Readers will be deeply moved.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This tragicomic bildungsroman in the shadow of loss will invade your heart and hold on tight.”
“A marvelous exercise in voice…Never contrived, the novel is beautifully written, making even the quotidian details of Sally’s life fascinating, in part because the story invites such a deep emotional involvement with the fully realized characters and, indeed, with the entirety of this splendid and memorable book.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is heartbreaking and funny, often in the same sentencea deeply felt, finely wrought, and highly satisfying novel. Alison Espach has created a family whose every sorrow, joy, and idiosyncrasy is utterly, vibrantly real.”
—Claire Lombardo, New York Times bestselling author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
“Tender, eloquent, and wise, this is an intensely beautiful book by a supremely gifted writer.”
—Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers
“Unputdownable, insightful, funny, and emotionally profound. A book that swirls and glitters with strangeness and delight, as much a portrait of grief as a love story, both love and grief hinging on the ways we negotiate with things we cannot control, how we sit in the cockpit of the self, what we dare to share with others and what remains ineffable. Gorgeous.”
—Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen
“Oh how I loved this novel! Alison Espach masterfully examines the effects of devastating loss with enormous wit, charm, and intelligence. This is truly a novel like no other.”
—Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
“In Alison Espach’s hands, a teenage girl on the cusp of understanding, a dazzling older sister, and a small Connecticut town become a beautifully described world filled with characters I wanted to meet, characters I still think about. Their trials and tribulations and adolescent longing and awkwardness; their love for each other—it all felt amazingly real. Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is the rare kind of book that made me both laugh and cry. It is hilarious and moving and deeply felt, and I was sad when it ended.”
—Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
“Espach is an immensely talented writer, and her prose unfolds with a devastating lightness of touch. This novel is deeply moving, always excellent, and often unexpectedly funny.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Hotel
“Writing from a black hole, ‘soundless and windless and without gravity,’ Alison Espach has alchemized unimaginable tragedy into a story that’s deceptively funny, tender, and ultimately life-affirming. Novels like this are what the art form is for.”
—Teddy Wayne, author of Apartment
Praise for The Adults
“Coming of age with a quick wit and a sharp eye…The Adults is as idiosyncratic as it is stirring.”
—New York Times
“Tom Perrotta meets Curtis Sittenfeld in this razor-sharp debut by Alison Espach, who weaves a wry, devastatingly perceptive coming-of-age tale set in Connecticut’s affluent suburbs.”
"Fierce, tender adolescent narrative.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“This cri de coeur carries a freshness and charm.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
After debuting with Adults, a New York Times Editors' Choice pick, Espach has us soaking up the sun one fervent summer, with eighth grader Sally Holt and her older sister, Kathy, eagerly eyeing oh-so-cool senior Billy Barnes as he works the concession stand at the pool. By summer's end, Billy and Kathy are a couple, but then tragedy descends, and Sally must face the consequences in a narrative that unfolds over 15 years. With a 150,000-copy first printing.
In her second novel, Espach portrays a family coming to terms with, and never coming to terms with, the loss of their eldest daughter.
As a young teenager, Sally Holt is in awe of her older sister, Kathy, who seems to have all the answers to life’s questions. But when Kathy dies in a car crash, Sally is left to grow up in the shadow of her loss. Espach makes an interesting choice in her title, describing the event not as a death but rather a disappearance. What’s the difference? The first means gone forever. The second is more ambiguous. Like Schrödinger’s cat, neither alive nor dead, the disappeared one lingers, always just about to walk in the door. As Sally progresses through high school and into adulthood, Kathy is frozen in place—a confidante she addresses throughout the novel. And Sally doesn’t beat around the bush. Her unflinchingly honest, sardonic take on the dissolution of her normal family life and coming to terms with loss makes the novel. It’s as if Sally’s parents have forgotten that they still have another daughter. When Sally’s mother turns to electroconvulsive shock therapy to blot out the memory of her first daughter, she loses the rest of her memory as well. Sally’s father engages in risky behavior, from alcoholism to cutting down old-growth trees in the yard (he found a tutorial on YouTube). Through Sally’s eyes, Espach crafts her characters with an emotional depth that powers the story while still leaving room for laughter. Espach’s character development also helps make the romantic plots feel fresh. The story of 28-year-old Sally’s relationship with her bland but stable fiance seems like it was pulled straight from the second half of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle; a vanilla relationship provides the stability Sally needs even though they lack chemistry. On the other hand, Sally's relationship with Billy, Kathy’s boyfriend and the driver in the fateful accident, brings some Dawson’s Creek incestuousness.
This tragicomic bildungsroman in the shadow of loss will invade your heart and hold on tight.