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The Disapparation of James    by Anne Ursu order for
Disapparation of James
by Anne Ursu
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I had to look up the word 'disapparation' in the title, and found that it means what I thought it did, disappearance. Armed with that, I opened the novel and fell into a wonderfully written tale of the closeness of families and how they react when horrible things happen to them.

The Disapparation of James covers several weeks in the lives of the Woodrows - Justin, Hannah, Greta, and of course James. During the course of a circus magical act, five-year-old James (who had volunteered to help the magician) disappears. Literally. When the act is over, James is nowhere to be found. What ensues is the abrupt realization that life is tenuous and could change at any minute. Hannah and Justin retreat into a world of dreams and seven-year-old Greta prepares a book of James' likes and dislikes for her brother to have when he returns, so he won't forget these things.

The tale of the struggles this family goes through is written simply, without either dread or a dark sense of foreboding. There is just the author's imaginings of how this particular family - a family she created - would act and react in this given situation. It makes a well crafted novel. The only fault I would find (and it may well be one that only bothers me) is that the names of two of the main characters start with the same initial. At times, I had to stop reading and reorient myself. This is a small thing in a very good book, one that I recommend highly to you.

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