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The Rules for Disappearing


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About the Author

Ashley Elston is the daughter of an attorney and grew up surrounded by talk of court cases, crazy clients, and the law in general - all of which triggered the ideas in THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING. She has a Liberal Arts degree from Louisiana State University and lives in Shreveport, Louisiana with her husband and three young sons.


After eight months and six different identities, Meg and her family are fractured to pieces by the time they wearily settle in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Meg has no idea why her family is in the Witness Protection Program. She does know, however, that in Natchitoches, she will not make any emotional attachments. It's just too hard, being ripped away from friends without a good-bye. Right away, though, Meg's resolve is tested. Ethan brings everything Meg needs in her life-companionship, loyalty, fun, and romance-if she would let him. But as Meg gradually learns the reasons for their confinement, she realizes that she needs to push Ethan away for his own safety. The sweet, sexy attraction between Meg and Ethan will captivate romance readers, while the suspense that runs tautly through the story will widen the novel's readership. If this were a movie, viewers would be screaming at Meg, "Don't go in there!" A contemporary suggestion for Lois Duncan fans. - Diane Colson Booklist Online"

For months Meg's family has been on the run, yanked from one safe house and shuttled to another on a moment's notice. Meg's had about all she can take-from her series of bogus identities ("Meg" being the most recent), to her mother's retreat into a bottle, to her younger sister's social withdrawal, to her own lack of friends and any semblance of normalcy. Stuck now in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Meg is determined not to get close to anyone, but her intentions dissolve under the advances of Ethan Landry, who resolves to break through her defenses. He rightly suspects something is amiss in Meg's family, but she couldn't give him any information about their circumstances even if she wanted to, because her father stubbornly refuses to say how they landed in Witness Protection. Eventually Meg's drunken mother lets slip that it was Meg who got them all into this situation, and as Meg tries to reclaim her repressed memories, pieces begin to fall into place and she takes off for her old neighborhood in Phoenix to ferret out hidden evidence that could get her family off the hook. Of course, Ethan is right by her side from road trip to break-in, and if the chills of the chase aren't compelling enough, the steamy-but-chaste romance should push this over the edge. Though the last-minute twist Elston sneaks into the tale is a little contrived, it doesn't matter; it's enough that readers can project right into the damsel-in-distress role and trust that a farm boy knight in a borrowed 1970 Mustang will come riding to the rescue. EB BCCB"

Gr 9 Up Meg Jones and her family have been under Witness Protection for eight months and have been relocated six times. Any day it might happen again: U.S. Marshals will arrive with no warning to shut down their lives and transfer them. 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. It's no wonder that Meg has nightmares, her little sister barely speaks, and her mom drinks. As for Mr. Jones, Meg blames him for all of it. Whatever he's done or seen to land them in this predicament has destroyed the family forever. The novel's first half is tense and captivating, as the Joneses 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. Some rules of Meg's new life: Don't make friends, don't trust anybody, don't use the Internet. Again and again, she tries to discover who is after them and what happened last June, but her father won't discuss it. Elston then breaks the tension when Meg falls in love, confronts a repressed memory, and hits the road with her new boyfriend to free her family for good. From there, the plot loses emotional resonance and becomes implausible, but readers will likely enjoy the action. Everything works out in the end, of course, but a single unfinished story line suggests a forthcoming sequel. Denise Ryan, Middlesex Middle School, Darien, CT SLJ"

Who's never wondered what it would be like to enter witness protection and assume a new identity? Meg Jones, her younger sister Mary and their parents have run through six witness protection placements. Each time, something goes awry, and they are swept right out of their old lives and right into new ones, with new names, new looks, new challenges-and the same old feeling that something just isn't quite right. The latest stop is Natchitoches, La., a warm, colorful place with quite a few perks, including a job at a local pizza joint and a handsome boy named Ethan. Smitten, Meg decides to do whatever it takes to stay put, and that means finding out what her father witnessed, or perhaps what crime he committed, to warrant the family's entry into the strange world of witness protection. Once she's on the trail of the truth, Meg feels compelled to make things right for her beleaguered family, even if it means placing herself and her devoted new beau in grave danger. The fresh first-person narration serves the story well, providing grounding in reality as events spin out of control. Though the plot may seem a bit far-fetched at times, the realistic setting, believable romance and spunky protagonist will make this one worth the trip for mystery and romance fans. (Suspense. 12 & up) Kirkus"

4Q 4P J S Anna's family is in the witness protection program, and they have relocated numerous times, taking on new names at every location. The latest move to Louisiana even involved changes in hair color and styles, as well as colored contacts for Anna. Her family is falling apart-her mom drinks heavily, her dad makes secretive phone calls, and her little sister withdraws further with each relocation. Previous relocations have been the result of her missteps, so Anna knows she needs to steer clear of relationships to avoid awkward questions or worse. She did not, however, count on Ethan-cute, persistent, and in the end, trustworthy Ethan. When events come to a head, Ethan is the only one Anna can trust. Elston has crafted a gripping tale that immediately captures the reader's attention. Anna is a typical teenager thrust into a most atypical situation. The pacing of the story hits just the right mark, slowly building the tension as the story progresses. Just when everything seems to be wrapping up neatly-BAM!-the author throws the reader for a loop. Several loose threads are left hanging, suggesting the possibility of a sequel. This will appeal to a wide range of readers-chick-lit fans will appreciate the lovely romance, and adventure readers will be drawn to the suspense and action. This is a solid selection for young adult libraries.-Deborah Wenk. Anna Boyd is an inspiring character. She portrays the difficult life of moving around a lot. Readers who move and have relationship issues will feel connected to Anna. The ending is abrupt, however; one moment the characters are running for their lives, and the next they are told the killer is dead. Overall, the book is very touching, leaving readers with the message that life can change at any moment. 4Q, 4P.-Sarah Phillips, Teen Reviewer. VOYA"

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