Joe's Reviews > The Vanishers

The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
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's review
Nov 11, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: by-the-ladies, contemporary-fiction, doubleday, 2011

In a marvelous literary construction, Heidi Julavits takes the internal struggle of a young woman whose mother has committed suicide and finds a metaphysical analogy to extrapolate, examine, and ultimately explode the resulting inner demon. Elizabeth Severn is a young psychic who enrolls in the country's only college for the paranormally inclined. However, her course of study quickly takes a wrong turn when her tutor, out of jealousy, attacks her mind. Soon, in an attempt to heal herself Elizabeth is pulled into the same tangled web that ultimately killed her mother, following a mysterious performance artist in a doomed chase that resembles Eco in its eccentricity and Bolano in its fantastic obscurity. When fate twists the characters so tightly together that they are impossible to tell apart, Elizabeth realizes that she has become the attacker, and that forgiving her mother may mean being defeated at her hands. Chilling, weird, and fascinating.

"Once I asked my father why my mother hadn't left a suicide note, to which he'd replied, We are not that sort of people. To his mind, this oversight of hers was less a mark of insensitivity than of the tensile strength of her character."

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