NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You Disappear by Christian Jungersen

4.0 out of 5 stars What is love when all that is familiar is gone?

This was an eye-opening and entertaining read that centers on the topic of traumatic brain injury and its effects on the patient, his family, his marriage, his friends, his job and his life. On one hand I found it terribly depressing but on the other, extremely educational as the author obviously did meticulous research into the subject and included it in asides (such as a personal letter, a chart, a journal article, etc.) that makes the reader delve more into the science of the brain and the study of neurobiology. I found the medical information absolutely fascinating and enjoyed that part of the novel much more so than the characters.

I'm not certain I could call this any kind of psychological thriller, however. The story itself showed how Frederik changes once his hidden brain tumor is diagnosed and removed. Does the soul reside within the brain? And, if so, when someone's entire personality and manner of being has been altered, is the person really Frederik or is he someone completely new? Who then did/does Mia love -- the real Frederick or the one who was changing as the result of a growing tumor? In the aftermath, when Frederick is completely dependent, Mia has a crisis -- she's overwhelmed with caring for him, losing connections with former friends, and her relationship with their son Niklas is horribly strained. She strives to help the man she's still married to and gets involved in a support group that provides a degree of interaction with others who know what she's going through. When she meets Bernard, another member whose wife has brain damage, she feels that she has finally found someone who meets HER needs. It's a rescue! Burdened by the shame -- it's discovered that Frederik embezzled thousands of pounds from the private school where he was beloved headmaster -- the family has to sell their belongings and move from their home. Mia is at the bottom -- and she can wallow in self-pity like none other, however I did feel a lot of empathy for her considering her horrible situation.

I liked this book in many ways, though it was quite different from what I had been expecting. I'd definitely recommend it to others interested in the science of neurology and study of the brain. Book groups would find a wide variety of topics for discussion and debate. This is the third book I've read recently dealing with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and the most well-written of them.

Thank you to Amazon Vine, NetGalley and Doubleday for the ARC to review.

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