Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Disappear Completely” as Want to Read:
How to Disappear Completely
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Disappear Completely

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  51 reviews
"When Emma discovers the first spot, 'like a tiny bright moon' on her left foot, she's at the funeral of her grandmother, who had been her best friend as well. The diagnosis is vitiligo, a skin condition triggered by stress. Creating a large multigenerational cast, Standish knits an absorbing story of loss, identity, and human connections. A rewarding, realistic novel, ill ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by HarperCollins
More Details... Edit Details

Win a Copy of This Book

  • How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish
    How to Disappear Completely

    Release date: May 04, 2021
    Everything changes when a girl develops vitiligo after her beloved grandmother dies, but a strange journal brings hope and magic. Enter to win a copy!

    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 10 copies available, 1670 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Apr 04 - May 03, 2021

    Countries available: U.S.

  • Friend Reviews

    To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.34  · 
    Rating details
     ·  215 ratings  ·  51 reviews

    More filters
    Sort order
    Start your review of How to Disappear Completely
    Renee Godding
    5/5 stars

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again: there is something magical about middle-grade books. Although it’s not my primary genre, it’s without a doubt the one I find the most hidden gems in. Hidden gems like last years August Isle, which made it into the top 5 of my favourite books of the year. And also hidden gems like the 2020 release How to Disappear Completely by the same author, who is quickly rising to the rank of my favourite middle-grade author.

    12-year old Emma, feels like
    May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: favorites
    If I had a time machine, I’d go back and hand this book to 11 year old me. I’d promise her that she’d find comfort in it; That it would be the friend she was struggling to find.

    This book offered enormous solace to me, though, even as an adult, both within the pain conveyed and the lessons learned. It’s such an honest story, taking you straight into the narrator’s aching heart as she confesses all of the pain she is grappling with after losing her grandmother and being bullied and ostracized at
    Ms. Yingling
    Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

    I was really interested to read a book about a girl with vitiligo, but the plot line with her missing her grandmother and the fantasy/fairy tale elements wasn't something that my students seem to like. I can't remember what other books involve this mix (without the skin condition), but can't think of the titles. I do love Standish's Bad Bella.
    Hannah Williamson
    Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    This book is a beautiful exploration of loss, grief, friendship, depression, a form of chronic illness, and family, all told through the eyes of a 12-year old girl. The dear friend who gave me this book mentioned that this book would have been helpful to her when she was a girl, and I felt the same way, especially when learning about the difference between fitting in and actually connecting. Highly recommend for kids as well as adults!
    Richie Partington
    May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: fiction

    Richie’s Picks: HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY by Ali Standish, Harper, April 2020, 384p., ISBN: 978-0-06-289328-4

    “And I’m so sad
    Like a good book
    I can’t put this day back
    A sorta fairytale with you”
    -- Tori Amos (2002)

    “Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment. The patches of skin affected become white and usually have sharp margins. The hair from the skin may also become white. The inside of the mouth and nose may also be involved.”
    -- from Wikip
    May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: yabc-reviews
    See my full review here:

    HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY is a beautiful story about grief and self-confidence. Emma was very close to her grandmother, who recently died of cancer. Her family had moved to town to spend time with her before her death, but Emma and she had always been close. Her grandmother had showed her a magical spot in the woods where the faerie folk lived. Now that she has died, Emma feels lost and sad.

    She also notices a white spot on her sk
    Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
    Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: 3rd-7th grade
    After losing her grandmother, Emma feels lost. Gram was the only one who really understood Emma and always filled her world with magic. They even shared a secret grove where where fairies left gifts specifically for Emma. But Gran is gone, so Emma feels the magic is gone when she discovers white spots on her skin.

    She is diagnosed with vitiligo, a disease that makes patches of her skin lose their color. Suddenly, the fairytales Emma once believed in fade away and are replaced with bullies and doc
    Ok so first of all this book is super important. I fully believe that acquainting children with topics like vitiligo is essential in making them more tolerant. And this book is really sweet and nice for the most part.
    HOWEVER I would have preferred this book to be written by someone who shares the main character's experiences of being black and having vitiligo.
    Because as someone who has vitiligo I did feel the representation to not be super accurate and I also didn't LOVE the POC representation.
    Joy Kirr
    I almost filed this under “fantasy,” due to the stories within this cleverly-woven story. I missed Gram, due to all of Emma’s stories about her. I wanted to see the Goldengrove for myself and hear Gram’s stories firsthand. I wanted to stand next to Emma as she held her ground and didn’t give in to the bullies when it came to her newly-acquired vitiligo.
    Erin Varley
    Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Thank you to Ali Standish and Harper Publishers for sending an ARC to our #bookexpedition group.

    Emma has recently lost her Gram, the one person in the world who understood her. Gram and Emma shared a world of fairy tales, a world in which Emma longs to stay, especially when strange white spots begin to appear on Emma’s skin.

    As Emma’s world begins to change, new friends help Emma find her way. Emma must come to terms with the past, discovering long-lost secrets along the way. Author Ali Standis
    Benji Martin
    Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Holy smokes, this one is good!
    Katie Reilley
    Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Thank you to the author and HarperCollins for sharing an early edition with our #bookexpedition group.

    Emma has just lost her Gram, the person closest to her who filled her world with magic and enchantment. Left feeling like a piece of her is missing, she soon discovers pale spots appearing on her skin and is diagnosed with vitiligo, a condition that makes skin patches lose their color. Feeling lonely, Emma decides to write one last story in a journal that she and her Gram shared and is shocked w
    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
    How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish, 384 pages. HarperCollins, April 2020. $17.

    Language: PG (6 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (bullying)



    Emma, 7th grader, and her family moved to Lanternwood to care for Gram (Dad’s mom), who just passed away, leaving Emma feeling adrift. Gram delighted her with fairytales and introduced Emma to the beautiful part of the wood she calls The Spinney and to her favorit boo
    Jen Petro-Roy
    I had the privilege of reading an early copy of this.
    Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Ali Standish is one of my favorite authors and one of the few I will auto-buy when a new book comes out. I was delighted to add this latest title to my school library collection. Like all of Standish's books, it's a masterpiece and delves into many complex issues.

    Emma has always felt most at home in her grandmother's cottage (nicknamed Morning Glory Cottage). In fact, Emma considers her Gram to be her best friend. So when Gram dies, Emma is heartbroken. Her family moves into Morning Glory Cotta
    Kristin Crouch
    Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Thank you to the author and publisher for sharing an advance copy of How to Disappear Completely with Collabookation.
    During her beloved grandmother's funeral, Emma notices a strange white dot on her foot. A week or so later, there are two. And then more. Not only is Emma going through the stages of mourning, but now her skin is turning on her. Doctor's confirm what Emma and her mom already knew: vitiligo. Soon she is targeted by other students and decides that maybe hiding away is better than de
    Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I was pleasantly surprised by this middle grade book. Emma is mourning the loss of her beloved grandma, adjusting to a new school, and is mystified by the pale spots that are appearing on her body. Emma is soon diagnosed with vitiligo.

    I haven't read a book with vitiligo before, and this is a welcome addition for middle grade readers. I loved The Spinney woods area, and the village and its cast of characters had a very Stars Hollow-like feel. This book also covers a lot of topics middle school s
    LS Johnson
    Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    So many great quotes in the book! “The smell of her is so strong it makes my eyes water. It smells like wishing.” and “...what people think of you usually tells you much more about THEM than it does about YOU.” and “Maybe you can’t change what people think of you, but sometimes what people think changes you, whether you want it to or not.” and also, “As I turn to go, my heart feels like it’s splitting open and being mended at the very same time.” and finally “Well, the battles we fight always ch ...more
    Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    There is magic all around, but Emma has lost her way. Her grandmother, the one who believed in happy endings, is dead. Then vitiligo spots begin to appear -- first on her feet, then her arms, and soon on her face. Unable to hide them from her 7th grade classmates, Emma becomes a target of a bullying campaign. This new book from Ali Standish reminds us all of the resilience we have inside; of the magic that has been there all along. The beauty of flowers in spring. That encouraging teacher. A loy ...more
    Julie Perenchio
    Can't even tell you how much I enjoyed this book! Here are some reasons why:

    --somehow the author manages to sneak a little mystery in! I wasn't expecting that, and it works.

    --the protagonist, Emma, goes beyond "enduring the slings and arrows" of insensitive kids who employ some pretty intense fearmongering about her vitiligo. Emma matures, embraces, reaches out, and thrives. Yet her successes don't seem contrived or ring false. Kids can be pretty darn impressive sometimes, and Emma is the type o
    Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: arc, reviewed
    Reviewed from an ARC.

    But she doesn't understand how the pages in my books leave space for you to crawl into them and dream up your own stories, instead of trying to cram your head so full of big words there's no room left for you at all

    There's a lot of reasons I relate to main character in this one. Not for any of the major story points as described in the plot synopsis. Instead, it's in the details; small moments like the one above where Emma professes a love of recreational reading, her descri
    Sarah Yung
    I thought this was sweet, but the ending feels almost a bit too contrived to me—(view spoiler) ...more
    Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    First Emma’s grandma dies, then she starts to develop vitiligo just as the new school year at a new school is to begin. Along the way, she ends up in a mystery of who is writing in her journal story and finding out that her grandma was just like her and had a role in the development of her favorite book. When it comes to friends, Emma has a few, but life with vitiligo is a little more complicated, especially with regard to the social life. Find out what happens as Emma learns about her grandma’s ...more
    Erin Logan
    Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
    On the day of her Gram's funeral, Emma notices a tiny white spot on her foot. When this white spot appears elsewhere on her body, she begins to worry. Soon, Emma is dealing with beginning junior high, being the new kid, losing her grandmother/best friend, and an autoimmune disease she cannot control all at once. That's a lot for a 12-year-old! This wonderful story about friendship, acceptance, confidence, and growing up is a fast read, and I'd recommend it to nearly any student in grades 6/7. ...more
    Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
    I give this book a four star review. I say this because the books characters were very similar to people that are in the world we're living in. In this book it is a mystery and i would definitely suggest it to anyone who likes sweet books that are mysteries. One thing I did not like that was in the book it kinda got boring in the middle but towards the end it got good. The book is about a girl named Emma who has a rare disease called vitiligo. She has a hard time fitting in and her grandmother d ...more
    Pam  Page
    You can't go wrong with Ali Standish! Emma is struggling with her Gram's death, the diagnosis of vitiligo (skin pigment condition), and bullying at school. All of these factors make her life miserable but Emma escapes to the "Spinney", a special place where she can read a special journal and think of her Gram. This story is woven beautifully and the "magic" of Gram's book was a feature I particularly enjoyed. I can't wait for the release of this book to share with young readers. ...more
    Wendy MacKnight
    May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2020
    There is a reason Ali Standish is one of my favourite authors - she is not only an exceptional writer, but she sucks me into her stories and has me turning pages to see what happens next. HOW to DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY is no different. The story of Emma, who receives two blows back to back - the death of her beloved gram, and a diagnosis with the skin disease vitiligo, this book is about the power of friendship, dreams, forgiveness, and self-love. A must-read!!!!
    Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    This book!!!
    I cried at the end, not because of sadness, but because of my daughter.
    Haven Genevieve is my Emma. She is imaginative, and caring, and fun. She is name (Genevieve) after my Memaw. Memaw is my Gram. Anyone who knows her will say you cannot meet Memaw without feeling genuine love.
    I bought this book as a possible Christmas gift for a niece, but have decided to save it for when Haven has a bad day.
    Yvonne Stewart
    Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: children
    It took me a while to finish this. It started as just a sad story about a little girl who lost her grandma. Then with her skin affliction, the conflicts ramp up with what it feels like to be different and to have a bully at school. Standish shows being different is plain ok. All you need is one good friend at school. Kids are braver than we think too. This story has quite a bit of fantasy woven in too.
    Emma notices white spots on her skin soon after her beloved Grandmother dies. On top of starting at a new school, she soon learns she has vitiligo -- a loss of color in the skin. As she learns to live with her new condition and the bullying that results, she learns more about her grandmother and the fantastical stories she shared with Emma. This is a beautifully written middle grade book about family, family secrets, and resilience.
    « previous 1 next »
    There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

    Readers also enjoyed

    • My Life in the Fish Tank
    • Coo
    • The Canyon's Edge
    • Lupe Wong Won't Dance
    • Wilder Girls
    • Me
    • We Dream of Space
    • A Place at the Table
    • What Lane?
    • Millionaires for the Month
    • Red, White, and Whole
    • Something to Say
    • Any Day with You
    • Tune It Out
    • A Thousand Questions
    • Echo Mountain
    • History Smashers: The Mayflower
    • The Sea in Winter
    See similar books…
    Ali Standish, author of the critically acclaimed The Ethan I Was Before, split her time growing up between North Carolina and several imaginary worlds. The only award she ever won in school was for messiest desk, but that didn’t stop her from going on to get degrees from Pomona College, Hollins University and and the University of Cambridge. She still spends most of her time in her imagination, bu ...more

    News & Interviews

    Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
    27 likes · 16 comments
    “Imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have. If we build it up strong enough, it can be anything we need it to be. A home. A friend. A whole entire world.” 1 likes
    “That’s the thing about transformations. You think you’re looking at one thing, but it’s already on its way to being another. Just because you can’t see it changing right in front of you doesn’t mean it’s not. And there’s usually nothing you can do to stop it.” 0 likes
    More quotes…