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You Disappear [Hardcover]

Christian Jungersen , Misha Hoekstra
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: £17.21
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Book Description

7 Jan 2014
A riveting psychological drama that challenges the way we understand others—and our own sense of self

Mia is a schoolteacher in Denmark. Her husband, Frederik, is the charismatic headmaster of a local private school. During a vacation on Majorca, they discover that a brain tumor has started to change Frederik's personality. As it becomes harder and harder for Mia to recognize him, she must protect herself and their teenage son from the strange, blunted being who now inhabits her husband's body—and with whom she must share her home, her son, and her bed.

When millions of crowns go missing at the private school, Frederik is the obvious culprit, and Mia's private crisis quickly draws in the entire community. Frederick's new indifference and lack of inhibition rupture long-standing friendships, isolating Mia and making her question who Frederik really is. Was the tumor already affecting him during the years they had been so happy together? And does it excuse Frederik from fraud?

Mia enlists the help of a lawyer named Bernhard, whom she meets in a support group for spouses of people with brain injuries. As they prepare Frederik's defense, the two of them wrestle with the latest brain research, the age-old question of free will—and their growing attraction to each other.

Jungersen's lithe prose and unexpected plot twists will keep readers hooked until the very last page.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (7 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385537255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385537254
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 3.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 519,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christian Jungersen--You Disappear 30 Jan 2014
By Simon Clarke TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This fine novel is narrated in the first person by Mia,a Danish schoolteacher.
Frederik,her husband is a renowned headmaster of a private school,when
on holiday in Majorca,it is revealed that he has a brain tumour.The book
traces the changes in his personality and Mia and their son's reactions to it.

When it is discovered that Frederik faces a criminal action for embezzling
money from his school,Mia and Frederik's lawyer engage in studying brain
research,in order to prove that it was his illness that led him to commit
the crime.
Aside from being an original and captivating tale,the book also explores the timeless
philosophical problems of free will and personal responsibilty,and poses the
question,as we learn more about the workings of the brain,are we less free than
we think we are? Is our brain responsible both for our misdeeds and our goodness?
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This cannot be happening to me." 2 Jan 2014
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In Christian Jungersen's "You Disappear," translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra, forty-two year old Mia Halling's life will never be the same following a family vacation in Majorca. Mia notices that her husband, Frederik, who is at the wheel of their rental car, is speeding through hairpin turns like a madman. She implores him to slow down, to no avail. Although they crash, they manage to survive. What should have been a relaxing and enjoyable holiday nearly ends in tragedy.

Frederik's behavior in Spain is just the tip of an iceberg that threatens to irrevocably damage the Hallings' ability to communicate. It seems that he has a brain tumor that manifests itself in bizarre changes in his speech, actions, and emotional responses. A complete recovery is far from certain. Thus begins a lengthy ordeal that Jungersen describes in excruciating detail. Mia and Frederik live together, but they might as well be on different planets. Their seventeen-year-old, Niklas, is frightened and confused. In addition, when revelations emerge about Frederik's unsavory activities while he was the headmaster of a private school in Copenhagen, it becomes horrifyingly obvious that the Hallings' troubles have just begun.

"You Disappear" is far more than a conventional tale of domestic angst. Jungersen is an accomplished and daring writer who challenges us to ponder weighty topics such as free will and the mind-body connection. In addition, he poses a question that has no clear-cut answer: What does a spouse owe to a husband or wife who can no longer function normally? Mia is frustrated, angry, guilt-ridden, and lonely, knowing that the person she married is unable to provide her with the love, caring, and companionship that she desperately needs. To help her deal with her battered psyche, she joins a support group and reads extensively about brain injuries. Excerpts from her findings are inserted in key points of the book, giving us a window into her thoughts.

Jungersen creates fully developed characters, writes evocatively and perceptively about sensitive topics, and offers provocative theories about what makes each of us who we are. Mia, the narrator, reveals her most intimate and embarrassing thoughts and deeds, as well as her dreams, memories, and fantasies. She had a difficult childhood and her marriage to Frederik was imperfect, even prior to his diagnosis. Readers will empathize with this woman who is torn between her duty to her impaired husband and her desire to have a partner who understands and cares for her. This is a grim novel with little humor and few lighthearted moments. However, it is filled with enlightening information about how brain injuries affect both the victims and their loved ones. Mia describes her existence as an "endless grey corridor of disheartening days, days that look like they'll last the rest of your life." "You Disappear" is recommended for its poignant, compassionate, and uncompromising look at how people cope (or fail to cope) when they are in danger of losing everything that they cherish.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging consideration of the brain, identity, and free will 9 Jan 2014
By K. Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Frederik is the charming, gregarious headmaster of a prestigious private school. His wife, Mia, teaches at a different school. While vacationing together with their son, Niklas, Frederik behaves erratically and has an accident. In the course of his medical treatment, the doctors discover he has a brain tumor that will have to be surgically removed. Perhaps the presence of the tumor explains Frederik’s unusual and reckless behavior. But how long has the tumor been growing and impacting Frederik’s life? And how will he change after the surgery? Who is the “real” Frederik? How will his condition impact his family? What responsibility does Mia have to her husband – this person who little resembles the man she married or the man he had become?

“You Disappear” is primarily a family drama presented from Mia’s perspective. It’s a harrowing story of a household torn apart by mental illness. The transformation of her husband leads to profound loneliness for her. She’s living with a stranger. Her friends can’t fully understand or appreciate her predicament. Niklas is increasingly distant and closed off in his own world. Before his illness came to light, Frederik may have committed a crime. Mia ultimately finds comfort in a support group. A member of the group, Bernard, also happens to be a lawyer who may be able to assist Frederik. Further complicating matters, Mia is tempted to stray romantically.

The plot and characters, though not without merit, are far less interesting than the concepts they were created to explore. In many ways, Mia was insufferable. In fact, none of the primary characters were all that sympathetic despite their trials. I actually found myself more engaged by the ancillary characters. The writing was awkward at times, particularly toward the beginning of the novel – whether this was the fault of the author or the translator is unknown. Several scenes strain credibility, others seem contrived. But while the execution of the novel itself could have been improved in many ways, the unique and undeniable strength of “You Disappear” is in the philosophical and biological ideas underpinning the story.

Danish author Christian Jungersen has developed a niche for himself with the publication of his latest two novels, “The Exception” and “You Disappear”. In the first book, he used the microcosm of a small office to explore the ideas of genocide and victimization in macrocosm. In his latest book, he uses one man’s brain disease as a means of exploring the larger ideas of identity, accountability, and so much more. Jungersen’s portrayal of mental illness and its impacts on the larger family unit is unflinching. From the interpersonal dynamics to the physiological effects, the presentation was spot on. It can be ugly, but it’s very insightful. Excerpts of articles and exposition on modern research are creatively included in the narrative. The novel examines seemingly diverse ideas such as identity, free will, genetic engineering, religion, and democracy in a cohesive and thought-provoking manner.

Readers interested in a family drama can find better elsewhere. But those interested in an unsettling look at much of what defines us as individuals would be hard pressed to find a novel equal to “You Disappear”.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great new Danish reading discovery 5 Dec 2013
By carol irvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
excellent! it has been a long time since I have read anything this original. it starts out with a family on holiday. the husband has an accident and while he's being checked for a fracture, a tumor is discovered. with lesser books this would then become either a medical weepie or even a mystery but this book takes a wholly new path. the family finds itself suddenly beset from all sides with revelation of the tumor. The wife, Mia, has to find out how neurological science is affecting them and what unfolds is absolutely fascinating. one of the key queries becomes how responsible is someone for their acts if these acts are committed while subject to a brain injury. all sorts of questions flow from this and most especially the issue of free will. this is by a Danish author and is now being released in translation to American readers. the author has written two other novels which have been picking up prizes. this is an author you want to try! I've already ordered the second book. unfortunately the first book has not yet been translated into English.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good- not a thriller 27 Feb 2014
By Half Fast Farmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You Disappear is a unique book. Jungersen captures a unique rhythm that is just slightly off kilter. It neatly captures what has happened to Mia's life. While it is her husband whose illness is the focus of the story it often feels as if the story is just happening to Mia. That is not a criticism. The brain impairment prevents Frederik from fully experiencing the situation in some ways. She is the competent one and the burdens fall to her.

I struggle with the book a little. Frederik has been an abysmal husband. Mia's concerns about loyalty are a harsh contrast to his total lack of it. They are both disappearing into Frederik's illness. But Mia goes more like a hostage than a partner. Frederik deserves no better. It is sometimes almost painful to read Mia's recollections of her marriage and her son's life with Frederik. One of my greatest problems with the story is that we are meant to see Frederik changing. But he has always been awful.

The book is pitched as a psychological thriller. I feel that does the reader and the book a disservice. The small wending path of a story is nothing compared to the forest of Frederik and Mia. Their struggle overshadows any possible story. And what is there is pretty easily guessed.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who is responsible when you are not yourself? 29 Dec 2013
By Kevin Nicholls - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"You Disappear: A Novel” explores what defines a person.

It is a candid look at trying to love a stranger, or loving a stranger more than loving your spouse. Inappropriate and honest feelings in difficult situations are explored, and the overall perspective provided by the author is one I've never read before.

The brain exploration contained in the book is fascinating. The novel includes research on the brain, and which areas have which functions, and where the brain injury lies based on the behavior of patients. Neuro-philosphy is explored in addition to true definitions of love, loyalty, and family.

Through most of the novel, I felt I could relate to Mia’s reactions, and the author did an excellent job putting the reader in her shoes -- really understanding what she feels. One of the things Mia struggles with is Frederick's brain injury taking over her life and her friends and family tire of hearing about it. The underlying tone is one that I think many of us struggle with, when we find ourselves in extraordinary situations.

The novel did have some lulls that you need to push through, but the payoff is totally worth it.
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