"The best stories change you. I am not the same after The Vanishing Act as I was before.”—Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus
On a small snow-covered island—so tiny that it can’t be found on any map—lives twelve-year-old Minou, her philosopher Papa (a descendent of Descartes), Boxman the magician, and a clever dog called No-Name. A year earlier Minou’s mother left the house wearing her best shoes and carrying a large black umbrella. She never returned.
One morning Minou finds a dead boy washed up on the beach. Her father decides to lay him in the room that once belonged to her mother. Can her mother’s disappearance be explained by the boy? Will Boxman be able to help find her? Minou, unwilling to accept her mother’s death, attempts to find the truth through Descartes’ philosophy. Over the course of her investigation Minou will discover the truth about loss and love, a truth that The Vanishing Act conveys in a voice that is uniquely enchanting.
Jakobsen's debut novel is the refreshingly pared-down story of one girl's tiny world and the life lessons available in the smallest of existences. A year after Minou's Mama disappeared from the tiny island where she and her Papa make their home, the body of a dead boy washes up on shore. Everyone else on the island Priest, Boxman, and Papa believes that Mama is dead, but Minou remains unconvinced. Following the logic-based deductions imparted to her by her philosopher father, Minou relives the events leading up to Mama's disappearance, searching for signs and hopeful that the dead boy may provide a clue. The night before Mama left, she, Minou, and Boxman, a circus man with a broken heart, had collaborated on a dangerous act that made Mama vanish, and Mama's yearning for an existence outside the island is made painfully clear. The sweet yet pragmatic 12-year-old girl watches Papa's search for "the absolute truth" grate against Mama's love for the imagined, slowly unraveling their partnership. Jakobsen creates a lot with a little and builds on universals, proving that some truths are, in fact, fundamental.