The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Surprisingly good, addicting read. 

The Rules For Disappearing
by Ashley Elston
Disney-Hyperion | Hardback, 320 pages
On the run from the bad guys, Meg has been through several moves and identity changes. She’s lived by a set of rules that had so far saved her sanity from their last two relocations. Under the Witness Protection Program, she’s learned not to get attached, not to make friends and to make herself as invisible as possible. But when their family was yet again relocated to Louisiana, remaining incognito had become impossible. Thanks to a boy who wouldn’t leave her alone, a family on the verge of inevitable destruction, and her ever growing loneliness and impatience at the uncertainty of their future. Meg was determined to find out exactly what had happened if it was the first step to getting a semblance of their old life back. Even so far as reliving a nightmare that had plagued her nights to get to the truth that would set her family free.

Ashley Elston’s compelling debut lets the readers into the clandestined lives of those in the WPP, particularly of a family whose former life was as different as night and day from the nightmare they keep finding themselves in. Meg was a believable character who had learned to step up as their mother continued her descent into oblivion via alcohol. While their father continued to take things as they were, contented to flit from one form of life to another. Her sister, in the meantime, was talking less and less. She was angry for being kept in the dark, mollified each time she’d asked the whys. The frustration seeps from the book to the reader.

The book is broken down into a set of rules Meg has set for herself to help her get through the endless cycle of moving and switching identities. It was a disorganized, disquieting life where fear rules, accompanied by loneliness. It was not a life for a teenager, let alone an eleven year old. In a way, Ethan saved both girls from themselves. Meg has found a guy who needed to be the person who could put up with the back and forth, roller coaster of emotions that she goes through on a daily basis. Her sister, who was virtually withdrawn unto herself, had found a friend who coaxed her back into the world of the living. Ethan was the quintessential perfect book boyfriend, though a bit unbelievably perfect sometimes. I liked that he’s got Meg numbered and pegged from the get-go but I didn’t like that he was willing to put his life on the line for a girl he barely knew. But it’s part of his charm: he’s kind and gentlemanly and who couldn’t stand the thought of a world without Meg.

Wonderful characters, unrelenting suspense and a sweet romance to boot. What more could you ask for but for a sequel?

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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