From the title of the book, you would think that Vanishing Acts is a novel about magic. In a way, it is. Delia Hopkins’ dad is a magician and one of the highlights of her life was when she got to fill in for his assistant at the age of 6. That was the night she realized that people don’t just disappear. Or do they? Now an adult, Delia has an ideal life. Growing up in idyllic, rural New Hampshire, she has a handsome fiancé, Eric, a daughter, Sophie, an amazing search and rescue dog named Greta, a best friend, Fitz (also her fiancé’s best friend), and a father she adores.
Then one day, out of the blue, the police come to their house, arrest her father, and extradite him to Arizona and her whole past life distorts into an abyss of lies. Nothing in her past life was true. Her mother hadn’t died in a car crash, Delia wasn’t born in New York, and her name isn’t even Delia Hopkins. Her father kidnapped her from her alcoholic mother, ran, and never looked back. She is a missing person.
Delia has a lot of difficulty reconciling her loving father with someone who would lie to her all her life and keep her from knowing her mother. Eric, a recovering alcoholic and father of Delia’s little girl, falls off the wagon and brings even more insecurity into her life. Their best friend, Fitz, has always been in love with Delia and steps in to fill the void.
While Delia is trying to piece together the truth of her life, she, Sophie, and Greta stay in a trailer near the prison where her father is being held and near the home of her now re-married, estranged mother. A neighbour in the trailer park, Ruthanne, becomes a friend, draws her into Hopi traditions, and helps her to sort out her feelings a bit. But Delia is really having difficulty coming to terms with the new revelations that keep coming to light. Flashbacks she can’t quite grasp keep surfacing and while she wants to know and trust her mother, she senses something isn’t right. When her own daughter disappears, Delia comes close to the edge.
This was the first book by Jodi Picoult I have read. I liked it and enjoyed the search and rescue parts, the Hopi native ritual parts, and the way the story was told at different times from different perspectives. I understood Delia’s anger with her father at first but she had known him as a loving parent for more than 28 years and I think she should have tried to understand his perspective a little more. I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending although I still felt it was a good book. I have since picked up Second Glance which combines two topics I really enjoy: native culture and archaeology. I haven’t started it yet but will definitely review it when I’m done. Vanishing Act — * * * 1/2