Minou lives on a tiny snow covered island that has two houses and a church. Young Minou was born on the island to a philosopher father and an artistic, free spirited mother. She is doted upon by the other island inhabitants - Boxman, a retired circus performer who now makes boxes for the sawing-in-half trick, Boxman's dog, No Name, and Priest, a man who is always baking pretzels and is afraid to be in the dark.
A year ago, Minou's mother left the house one day with her best shoes, an umbrella, and an old turtle that lived under the porch. She was never seen again. Minou believes her mother is still alive, vanishing as if in one of Boxman's magic tricks. Since her mother's disappearance, everybody else on the island is withdrawn. Minou is determined to find proof that her mother somewhere out there; she knows her mother’s return will put everything back to the way things used to be.
Minou has been raised with a mix of philosophy and creativity. Her father turned to the logic of philosophy after a war that has left him fighting internal demons. Her mother, also affected by the war, painted murals all over the island and was always trying to get both Minou and her father to loosen up. Minou wants to be a philosopher like her father, who claims they are descendants of Descartes, but her logic is telling her that life isn't black and white - she doesn't need to decide between philosophy and creativity.
One day a dead boy drifts onto the island. Minou's father brings him in the house until the next delivery ship arrives to take him away. The two, the philosopher and the aspiring philosopher, take turns sitting with the body to reflect on life. Minou tells the dead boy about her mother. She writes a story for the boy, trying to imagine how he ended up the way he did.
The dead boy teaches Minou more about life than anyone alive could. In this story full of magic, quirky characters and hidden secrets, Minou leaves her childhood behind and starts to look at the world differently. This fairytale like story doesn't have much of a plot, but it does reflect upon life, troubled pasts, and death. The charm of Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen will draw you in and keep you cheering for Minou until the end.