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Literature / Vanishing Acts

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A 2005 novel by Jodi Picoult.

Delia Hopkins seems to a lucky girl. She is engaged to her high school sweetheart, has a successful job as a search-and-rescue person (with a bloodhound), and has a wonderful child, Sophie.

Then her father, Andrew, gets arrested for kidnapping her as a 4 year old in Arizona and everything changes. Her fiancé Eric becomes his lawyer for free and Delia and Sophie follow him to Arizona. She finds out her mother, Elise, was an alcoholic and her mother's lover supposedly sexually abused her as a child. She also finds out her original name was Bethany Matthews and her father was named Charles Matthews. Eric is struggling not to fall Off the Wagon, and Delia's other childhood friend, Fitz, is struggling not to reveal his true feelings for her. Meanwhile, Andrew is waiting in jail.


Vanishing Acts contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Eric, Eric's mom and Elise.
  • Alcoholic Parent: See above. Eric may not count because he is sober for most of the book.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Concise
  • Driven to Suicide: Ruthann
  • The '80s: Eric discusses the "Repressed Memory" and Satanism hysteria, saying that Delia's memory of her stepfather molesting her would have been great 20 years ago, but now repressed memories are not believed.
  • Girl Next Door: Delia to both Eric and Fitz
  • High-School Sweethearts: Delia and Eric.
  • Love Triangle: between Delia, Eric and Fitz
  • I Should Write a Book About This: At the end of the book, Fitz reveals towards the end that he has been writing - surprise! - a book about this entire event. However, there's the fact that the book was written in first-person, revolving between the four main characters, so this means that he was obsessing over the thoughts of the girl he's been in love with since he was a kid.
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  • Missing Mom: Elise, but not of her own volition.
  • Magical Native American: Ruthann, though not supernatural.
  • Magical Negro: Concise
  • Rape as Drama: Delia finds out her mother's lover may have raped her, thus provoking her father to kidnap her.
  • Token Black Friend: Andrew's friend Concise in jail. He dies at the end, though.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Delia forgets her molestation by her mother's lover Victor until her father mentions it in court.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Delia, Eric and Fitz
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: There is a rare inverted version AND a regular version involving the main characters Delia, Eric, and Fitz. Eric dates, has a child with, and gets engaged to Delia, while Fitz steps back because he just wants Delia to be happy. Then, during Delia's father's court case for kidnapping, Eric, a former alcoholic, falls off the wagon. Delia, feeling betrayed by both her father and Eric, runs to Fitz and eventually kisses him, and that leads to a lot more. Delia eventually chooses Fitz over Eric. Eric, then, is the inverted version because he started out the Victorious Childhood Friend but is now the Unlucky Childhood Friend, whereas Fitz is the opposite.