I picked up She Is Not Invisible because it was the second book I needed to read for #aryaclub, a young adult book club that I joined. It had also been on my wishlist for what felt like forever, yet it was a story that I actually did not know that much about, just that it was beautiful.
Laureth Peak and her seven-year-old brother Benjamin (and Stan, his soft toy raven) are in the bustling Heathrow airport trying to board a plane to New York. It should be simple, but for Laureth, it’s more of an ordeal than it ought to be. At sixteen-years-old, she is blind and must rely on her younger brother to lead the way. Her father has always taught her to see patterns, connections and reveal answers to puzzles, but right now it’s not helping her work out why their father is reportedly in America when he’s meant to be in Austria. It doesn’t explain why they haven’t heard from him or why he’s not answering his phone. It doesn’t tell them why their mother just doesn’t want to know. But they know that they’ll get answers if they find him and so that’s just what they’re going to have to do.
She Is Not Invisible and Picture Me Gone would make wonderful companion novels (and I enjoyed them both equally), in the sense they’re both about two unusual protagonists (who shouldn’t be seen as unusual at all) attempting to track down a loved one who has gone missing in the US. She Is Not Invisible is a beautifully written, atmospheric and philosophical contemporary mystery from Marcus Sedgwick. It takes you on a road trip that you’ve likely never experienced before. Laureth describes the world in terms of how it sounds, feels and smells, because of course she cannot use her sight. We never receive visual descriptions of any kind and yet you probably won’t notice until you’re quite far into the novel. Laureth can see the world as well as anyone else.
She Is Not Invisible bases its story around Jack Peak’s obsession with patterns, connections and coincidences, and it will make you think a lot about how you see the world. Do coincidences have meaning or are they just awesome? If you share the same birthday with someone or if you’re singing a song in your head only to find it’s playing when you turn on the radio, why do you think that happens? And it happens all the time (and to everyone), but Laureth’s father, we discover through her flashbacks and a notebook, cannot seem to escape from it.
She Is Not Invisible crosses many genres. It’s a mystery, a contemporary, a thriller. It’s literary and it’s philosophical. It’s YA, but it has definite crossover appeal. But it’s also just a story of a brother and sister trying to find their way in the world. It rests on Laureth and Benjamin’s ability to capture the reader’s imagination and it wouldn’t be the same story without them. I don’t think you should start the book just for the mystery, because it’s the captivating characters – and the fact that it encourages you to wonder – that makes She Is Not Invisible special.
(I also really enjoyed SF Said’s review of the book in the Guardian).
Published: 3rd October 2013 (UK) 22nd April 2014 (US)
Publisher: Indigo (UK) Roaring Book Press (US)
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!