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The Disapparation of Jamesby Anne Ursu
Synopses & Reviews
From the highly praised author of Spilling Clarence, a luminous novel about the joy of family and the perils of loving. The Woodrow family is going to the circus to celebrate Greta's seventh birthday. When five-year-old brother James eagerly volunteers to join the magic act, his parents watch with pride as he climbs onto the stage alongside the clown. The trick is spectacular and applause rings through the crowd as James disappears — vanishing before their very eyes. The trouble is, James really did disappear...into thin air. In the aftermath of James's disappearance, with the police investigation providing no clues, the laws of the universe come into question. His mother becomes lost in her dreams and his father becomes obsessed with the clown, while his big sister Greta sets out to figure out what happened. A novel peppered with dreams, premonitions, and possible realities, The Disapparation of James is a work of enormous sensitivity, tenderness, and wit.
"Alternative realities and parallel plot lines coexist in Ursu's surreal but psychologically acute second novel....Ursu wins the reader over with her humane wisdom and charming vision of the limitless possibilities of a child's imagination." Publishers Weekly
"...Ursu wins the reader over with her humane wisdom and charming vision of the limitless possibilities of a child's imagination." Publishers Weekly
"[A] very innovative work of fiction." Booklist
"Mysterious and ultimately moving, The Disapparation of James powerfully evokes the tenderness of the bond between parent and child, and the parent's never-ending awareness of its fragility." The Washington Post
"Ursu's story is sweetly done, her own compelling magic trick." Entertainment Weekly
"A compulsively readable and an elegantly written novel." The Orlando Sentinel
"In this tale of loss, love and redemption, the 'Poof!' is the least of the magic." San Jose Mercury News
"If other books published in 2003 are as good as this one, we're in for exciting reads." St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Ursu takes a familiar subject and leads us to unexpected places." Dallas Morning News
"Ursu's compelling novel blends surrealism with a keen understanding of the human heart to illuminate how a family deals with a loss for which there is no logical explanation." Portland Oregonian
"The Disapparation of James pulls readers rapidly along through Ursu's skillful probing of inner dramas. Her deft touch makes the tale absorbing and prevents it from descending to sensationalism or sentimentality." Rocky Mountain News
"The Disapparation of James celebrates the glory of ordinary life in the midst of trauma." New York Newsday
"Readers must finish the book to find out if James reappears. But along the way Ursu conjures interest in much more than that. The magic here lies in watching characters grow 'under extreme circumstances.'" The Boston Herald
From the highly praised author of Spilling Clarence comes a luminous novel about the joy of family and the perils of loving. The Woodrow family begins to fall apart when five-year-old James climbs onto the stage at a circus and joins the magic act. The trouble is, James really "did" disappear — vanishing before their very eyes.
Prolific and Talented Young Writer--Thisis Anne's second novel in two years, and she's well into her third. Similar Themes of Loss and Vulnerability and Joy--Anne continues to mine the rich territory of family bonds and how they are broken and mended. The Woodrow family is going to the circus. It's Greta's seventh birthday, and this is the main event. Greta has always been smart, chatty, and vivacious. Her 5-year-old brother James, though is a different story. Shy and a little removed, James is deeply loved by his sister and his parents, Hannah and Justin. Hannah has always been a little worried about James, though, and she's calling in the specialists. Buck back to the circus. Hannah and Justin couldn't be more surprised when shy little James sticks his arm straight in the air, an eager volunteer for the magic act. His parents glow with pride and relief as they watch their son climb the stage and come quite alive alongside the clown performing the magic tricks. The trick is spectacular and applause rings throughout the auditorium when James goes poof at the end, seeming to disappear before their very eyes. The trouble is, he really did disappear. Justin and Hannah find this out when they go backstage to retrieve their son after the performance and find out that their sun is utterly gone. The clown doesn't know how he did it, but he really did make little James go poof. The police arrive, and James quickly becomes the face on the milk carton. Devastated, Justin and Hannah learn that when you lose your child, the laws of the universe come into question. Secretly, sheepishly, Justin and Hannah admit that they really do believe that James has not been kidnapped, but that he did indeeddisappear into thin air. In the aftermath of James's disappearance, his mother becomes lost in dreams, his father becomes obsessed with the clown who performed the trick, while his big sister, Greta, sets about to figure out what happened to her brother using the only tools she has. Meanwhile the police officer assigned to the house begins to find the rules of his own previously reliable world altered. A novel peppered with dreams, premonitions, and possible realities, The Disapparation of James explores the perils of loving and the meaning of loss, and the beauty and uncertainty inherent in familial bonds. It is a work of enormous sensitivity, tenderness, and with from the highly praised author of Spilling Clarence.
The Woodrow family is at the circus to celebrate Greta's seventh birthday. When a clown asks for a volunteer from the audience, the parents are shocked when James, their extremely shy five-year-old, raises his hand. James thrives in the spotlight, and as the clown leads him through the routine, the parents glow with pride as the audience cheers for their son. The cheers turn into thundering applause as the act culminates in spectacular fashion, with James vanishing before their very eyes. The trouble is that James really does vanish--poof--into thin air. As the police and media descend on the Woodrows, they feel that the laws of the universe have shattered. How can you solve a puzzle with no logic? As young Greta sets out to discover what really happened to her brother, each family member grapples with the joys and perils of loving, the persistence of loss, and the magic of everyday life.
About the Author
Anne Ursu is the author of Spilling Clarence. She has worked at a major book retailer, as the theater critic for City Pages (Minneapolis), and as an arts writer for the Portland Phoenix (Maine). She lives in Mountain View, California.
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