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The Vanishers
 
 

The Vanishers [Kindle Edition]

Heidi Julavits

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Product Description

Product Description

From the acclaimed novelist and The Believer editor HEIDI JULAVITS, a wildly imaginative and emotionally intense novel about mothers, daughters, and the psychic damage women can inflict on one another.
 
Is the bond between mother and daughter unbreakable, even by death?
    
Julia Severn is a student at an elite institute for psychics. Her mentor, the legendary Madame Ackermann, afflicted by jealousy, refuses to pass the torch to her young disciple. Instead, she subjects Julia to the humiliation of reliving her mother's suicide when Julia was an infant. As the two lock horns, and Julia gains power, Madame Ackermann launches a desperate psychic attack that leaves Julia the victim of a crippling ailment.
    
Julia retreats to a faceless job in Manhattan. But others have noted Julia's emerging gifts, and soon she's recruited to track down an elusive missing person—a controversial artist who might have a connection to her mother. As Julia sifts through ghosts and astral clues, everything she thought she knew of her mother is called into question, and she discovers that her ability to know the minds of others—including her own—goes far deeper than she ever imagined.
    
As powerful and gripping as all of Julavits's acclaimed novels, The Vanishers is a stunning meditation on grief, female rivalry, and the furious power of a daughter's love.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1227 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B006ZZOUAK
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (13 Mar 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005WBEEDG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,784 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A convoluted supernatural plot can't compete with out of this world prose 19 Mar 2012
By Susan Tunis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm one of those reviewers who tends to start with a plot summary. So, I could tell you that this is the story of twenty-something Julia Severn, an "Initiate of Promise" at the Institute of Integrated Parapsychology. The novel begins by detailing Julia's complex and troubled relationship with her mentor, Madame Ackerman. Their problems may stem from the mentor's fear of being supplanted by the protégé, or perhaps they're due to Ackerman's resemblance to Julia's mother who committed suicide when Julia was an infant. For these reasons (and others), things sour, but their separation plagues Julia physically. She leaves school and spends the next year seeking a medical explanation for her physical decline. None is forthcoming until an odd girl literally trips into her life and explains that she's under "psychic attack." Offers of both help and employment are proffered.

And that--as they say--is just the beginning. The plot of this novel felt like a game of Three Card Monty, with constantly shifting character identities and allegiances. I didn't read this novel because the description of the plot interested me. Ghosts, psychics, astral projections? Definitely not my cup of tea. However, a book about mother-daughter relationships and other female rivalries? Now you're talking! And that's very much what Heidi Julavits delivered. The whole psychic thing was merely the backdrop against which every type of mother-daughter drama imaginable was displayed.

And all this talk of "drama" sounds dramatic, and some of it was. But a lot of it was very, very funny. And even more of it was weird. And some of it was just plain confusing. I stand by my Three Card Monty analogy. But through it all was Heidi Julavits' sparkling prose. So much of language is merely functional. And, sure basic communication is a good goal. But the sentences of this novel were full of surprises and unexpected turns. They communicated, but they also delighted in a way that is truly rare. This is the sort of novel that leaves me wondering, "Why haven't I read this author before?" I know there's another book somewhere on the shelf. I will be digging it up, because Ms. Julavits has charmed me utterly with her inventive use of language. Plot, in this case, was almost immaterial.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow...Fascinatingly Odd... 13 Mar 2012
By PattyLouise - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Quick summary...

Julia is a psychic who has issues and she is being made sick and unstable by another psychic who is jealous of her.

My thoughts...

This was an extremely weird yet oddly fascinating book. Julia was assisting Madame Ackerman when a psychic event caused Madame Ackerman to hate her and make her quite ill. Julia already has issues because of her mothers suicide and it doesn't take much of Madame Ackerman's skills to do her in. She is asked to leave her training. She takes pills round the clock and her life is pretty miserable.

Apparently she has to vanish to get better so she does.

I am not sure that I totally got hooked by this book...reading it was like reading a bizarre tale...the writing was superb and it was sort of fascinating but a little too heavy into weird psychic stuff for me.

But once I started it I really did not want to put it down...I wanted to understand this strange bizarre wold Julia lived in.

But mostly I just wanted her to get better. Fast. There is talk about Sylvia Plath while Julia is in pyschic rehab...Sylvia Plath...the Bell Jar...ugh...

Slowly her psychic sight is restored...she sees again...she can find lost things but she is still weird...she is embroiled in this idea that she must find out what happened to her mother...the mother who committed suicide when Julia was one month old.
Slowly ...other properties that have been taken from Julia are slowly returned to her.
Her world now includes even more strange events. There are surgical impersonators...people who take different faces while they "vanish". She hangs out with really unusual people...and as she gets stronger the events get more and more odd.

They drink liver tea...and get massages and colonics...OMG...the ending is odd and frankly...I am not sure I get it...

I really am not going to be able to do this unusual book justice ...
I can say that it is different, strange, unusual and not one that totally hooked me.
What it does have is a suspense filled mind blowing series of events and beautiful writing. The writing is what made me read this book.

But that is not saying it wouldn't grab other readers.
I have friends who will love this book!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed, long, and a yawner 30 Jun 2012
By asassyvic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I listened to this on audio, Xe Sands is a wonderful narrator. Sands is the only reason I got to the end of this tedious book. I felt some admiration for Sands, that she did not go into a coma reading it. The story started out with potential, and then fell into confusion, and craziness.
It was difficult to follow the variety of characters, not a single one of them was even remotely interesting. At one point I thought the entire story was about the madness of all of them, and the entire scenario, was taking place in Julia's mind withing a mental hospital. Really a boring, and unnecessarily long and drawn out book. This is not a book I recommend. I give it two stars, because of the excellent narrator.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suspend your Disbelief 15 Mar 2012
By Cynthia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"The Vanishers" has a nice twist on the paranormal craze. Julavits manages to present a fresh outlook as well as a believable plot as long as you're willing to suspend belief and go with the premise. Mid twenties Julia Severn is attending a course in honing her psychic skills in lieu of a more traditional graduate course. She becomes fixated on her mentor, Madam Ackerman, in part because she lost own mother as a baby and still longs for her. Then things blow up at school and Julia becomes so ill she must take time away. She meets some shady (or perhaps they are merely pieces of her life puzzle) people who influence her to go to Europe in search of recovering her health but also to uncover a mysterious female director who is thought to be involved with an organization that helps people stage their own disappearances, leaving only a film for their loved ones to view stating their reasons for their suicide or disappearance. I did say you'd need to suspend belief right? I didn't love this book but enjoyed it enough to keep turning the pages. As I've said it balances a tightrope walk through fairly unbelievable plot points but Julavits does a great job with the pacing of the story, in fact the pacing and the freshness of the plot were her strong points.

This review was based on a e-galley provided by the publisher.

3.5/5 stars
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird and Wonderful 30 Mar 2012
By A. Budner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Weird, ferocious, passionate, funny and heart wrenching, all these adjectives and more come to mind while reading "The Vanishers." Heidi Julavits's strange novel manages to be a surrealistic psychic noir mystery, a satire of academia and modern medicine, while also simultaneously exploring female relationships -- mother to daughter, teacher to student, friend to friend, enemy to enemy -- with an intensity that humor can only mask for so long. As odd as all this sounds, it is also eminently readable.

As the book opens, the narrator, Julia Severn is a student of the psychic sciences at the Institute of Paranormal Psychology, also known as The Workshop. Her mentor, the powerful Madame Ackermann, hired Julia to transcribe her regression travels, but has been unable to produce results. While Madame Ackermann sleeps Julia has, without her employer's knowledge, tried to cover for her by making up transcripts of their sessions. Madame Ackermann tumbles to the deception and in retribution launches a psychic attack on Julia that ruins her health and forces her to leave the workshop. After retreating to New York and a mindless job, Julia is approached by a pair of researchers who are seeking a once famous artist and offer Julia treatment in return for using her psychic powers to their advantage. Julia meanwhile, hopes the quest will help her to forge a link with her mother, who committed suicide when she was a month old. As expected, nothing turns out to be what Julia expects.

Who is attacking whom? Who is seeking whom? Where is the border between sanity and insanity? The twists and turns of the plot are complicated by characters who refuse to remain anchored in time and space, life or death and will leave you gasping at the imagination that dreamed up this manic chase. Despite the frenetic forward movement of the story, at its heart, "The Vanishers" is a bildungsroman about coping with grief and loss, especially when the void is created by suicide or disappearance.

If you get to the end and are left with questions, don't worry, that is Julavits' point. Ambiguity is an essential component of the human condition and learning to live means learning to live with seemingly contradictory impulses governing our relationships.

It is a book worth reading and, in my opinion, rereading.
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Popular Highlights

 (What's this?)
&quote;
People can vanish or even die, but the blame keeps them present and alive. To be forgiven is to be released into the ether, untethered and alone. &quote;
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users
&quote;
To kill yourself was to say to your family members, I can no longer live with myself. To vanish was to say, I can no longer live with you &quote;
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users
&quote;
Because who doesn’t want to be blamed by the people she loves, or might have loved? &quote;
Highlighted by 5 Kindle users

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