Erin Glover's Reviews > Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth by Julia  Phillips
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it was amazing
bookshelves: five-stars

Similar to how everyone is related in the movie Crash, all the characters are related in this mystery about the disappearance of two little girls across the world in a remote region of Russia.

Phillips introduces us to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, “the last bit of land before sea.” The district is part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, bordered by ocean on three sides and a vast impassable tundra to the north. A witness purports to see Alyona, 11, and her eight-year-old sister Sophia with a man near a clean black SUV in town. The witness proves unreliable. So what happened to the girls who were wandering the shoreline?

The characters are nuanced and diverse. Some are Russian, some are from ethnic minorities whose families are reindeer herders, and some are migrants. Their lives touch as they respond to the news of the missing girls.

The plotting is suspenseful, especially toward the end, but it’s the characters that move this story forward. Phillips captures despair with profound empathy. But she leaves room for a little hope in the individuals’ lives, hope they need to survive harsh Russian life.

There are many themes that will ring true universally, even though the setting is so different from our western world-view. For instance, the deep depression resulting from the loss of a child; the frustration with dealing with government bureaucracies; the fear of migrants and how they could change the status quo; the hopelessness of cancer; and the terror felt upon learning a pedophile could be in your midst. These feelings are just as true in remote Russia as they are in the western world.

Update on July 25, 2019: This is a novel where reading it with the benefit of Kindle X-ray is incredibly helpful. There is an ever-changing cast of characters that is exceedingly difficult to keep track of. Whenever I got confused, I simply clicked on the character's name and could see all the places that person was mentioned and how they fit in the story. I've noticed a number of reviews that complain about the number of characters but it wasn't a problem for me because I didn't read the hard copy. Also, I can't imagine how someone could enjoy the audio version of this novel due to the sheer volume of characters. Yet, every single one is important.
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Reading Progress

June 23, 2019 – Started Reading
June 23, 2019 – Shelved
June 29, 2019 – Shelved as: five-stars
June 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Angela M (new)

Angela M Fantastic review, Erin.


Erin Glover Thanks Angela. I really liked this book. The migrant issue reminded me of the current European and US immigration crises.


Erin Glover Also, I didn't know that Russians have a choice of public and private doctors. I have to learn more about this. I thought it was Communist, period.


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