Book Review: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Meg is not her real name. In fact, Meg is the 6th name and identity she has had in the past year. Her family can’t take it anymore. She wants to find a way to stay, to make this identity her last. In order to do that, she’ll have to figure out what they are running from.
When Meg shows up in Louisiana, unsure of what they are running from, her family is falling apart. Her mother has become an alcoholic, barely able to get out of bed each day. Her sister, Mary this time, has become sullen and withdrawn. And this time, they have made Meg cut and dye her hair and put in colored contact lenses. Something seems to keep gong wrong with their placement in the Witness Protection Program and Meg believes that finding out what they are running from may be the only way to help her family.
First though, she has to make it through yet another new school. Following the rules that she has made for herself, she tries to keep herself on the fringe but not so much on the fringe that she becomes interesting. Unfortunately for her, she has made an enemy: Emma.
Meg also has attracted the attention of a hottie named Ethan, who just won’t seem to leave her alone. In his pursuit of her, he finds clues that she is someone different than what she says she is. Although one of her biggest rules for disappearing is not to get attached, the suits could show up at any time and yank them out of there again, Meg is having a hard time deflecting Ethan’s questions, and his charms.
The Rules for Disappearing is a compulsively readable mystery/thriller about one girl’s search for the answers no matter what the cost. There are high stakes in it for Meg and readers will be interested in finding out the answers. It is also an interesting look at what life in the Witness Protection Plan would be like.
I have already written about one of the major parts of the story that concerned me, but I really didn’t like the way that Ethan kept pushing Meg to reveal her secrets, to trust him, to just give him a chance. There is also a prolonged hog hunting scene that I personally could have done without, but two important pieces of the story come out of it so it is necessary. The Rules for Disappearing is set in the South and captures some of those Southern charms while also placing our main character into a high stakes race for first truth and then the information she will need to set her family free from the looming threat that haunts them. It is very interesting to see the difference between who Meg is today and who she once was. There is also a nice cliffhanger twist at the end that will entice readers to come back for the next installment. Mystery/thriller fans will like it. 4 out of 5 stars.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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