Rummanah Aasi
  Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you participated in the Witness Protection Program. For Meg Jones, a new process everyday: learning and becoming a new person. It's lonely, frustrating, and unnerving. Many thanks to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review an advanced reader's copy of Ashley Elston's debut novel.

Description (from the Publisher): Shes been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that shes been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last. Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they've given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do-or see-that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all of the Suits rules-and her dads silence. If he wont help, its time she got some answers for herself. But Meg isn't counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who's too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there's only one rule that really matters-survival.

Review: Like most readers, I was initially drawn to The Rules for Disappearing because it featured a main character in a Witness Protection Program. Meg Jones and her family have been under Witness Protection for eight months and have been relocated six times. Any day the U.S. Marshals can come to their door to tell them to pack up their things and transfer them to a brand new location. The family will be given new personal histories to memorize, new names, and new appearances. They must never make a mistake. They must always stay in character.
  I had mixed feelings towards Meg. I felt terribly that she had nightmares and was always on edge and uneasy. I loved how Meg took care of her little sister who barely speaks, but her incessant blaming her father for their current situation irritated me. Whatever he's done or seen to land them in this predicament has destroyed the family forever, Mr. Jones has become the scapegoat for the family's frustration and anger. Mr. Jones didn't help the situation either by being so incredibly secretive and not really stepping in when Mrs. Jones drank. I was hoping that the author would focus a bit more on Meg's parents, but the mother is pretty much drunk whenever she appears on the page and the father appears to really try and be their for his family, but ultimately I didn't really think they were three dimensional characters.
  The novel's first half is tense and captivating, as the Jones family tries to adapt to a new home in rural Louisiana. The characters struggle under severe uncertainty and dysfunction. Their new home is dreary, they have very little money, and every bump in the night could mean trouble. Meg has set up some of her own rules that she must follow to keep her profile low: Don't make friends, don't trust anybody, don't use the Internet. Again and again, she tries to discover who is after her family and what happened last June that started this whole mess, but her father won't discuss it. Soon she starts to break her own rules when she gets closer to the truth.
  Elston then breaks the tension when Meg falls in love with a charming boy named Ethan. Their romance was sweet and slowly build throughout the book. Ethan didn't really stand out for me as a character, but he was nice and helped Meg though he had figured out that Meg was lying about her identity pretty quickly. He does help Meg confront a repressed memory, and hits the road with her to free her family for good.
  I have to say that I was disappointed when we learned why the Jones family is in the Witness Protection Program. I thought the answer was too convenient and for me, the plot loses its emotional resonance and becomes implausible, I think some readers will likely enjoy the action. Though we get answers by the end of the book, the author leaves a single unfinished story line for a very likely forthcoming sequel. While I enjoyed this book for the most part and it reminded me a lot of Lois Duncan's books that I read in junior high, I'm not entirely sure if I'll pick up the next book.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, underage drinking, and strong violence. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Shadowlands by Kate Brian, Don't Look Behind You by Lois Duncan
1 Response
  1. Yeah, I found it annoying that Meg kept blaming her father. I figured pretty early on that they were in Witness Protection most likely because of her and her father just didn't want her to blame herself.

    I'm pretty sure I won't be picking up the sequel but if you do, Rummanah, I'd be interested in seeing whether you like the sequel more.


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