Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Published: April 22nd 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Hardcover, 224 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers--a skill at which she's remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.
Although I’m new to Marcus Sedgwick’s work, I took one look at his previous ratings and award nominations and rushed to download She Is Not Invisible, confident I would enjoy it. It is, indeed, obvious that Sedgwick is an author of great talent – in this book, his sentences appear to be liquid, blending together effortlessly in a prose piece of extraordinary beauty.
But sometimes, even that isn’t enough.
This is not Sedgwick’s first book written from a teen girl’s perspective. There is The Foreshadowing, for one, and possibly even others. But I’d venture to say that he knows very little about 16-year-old girls, since there was nothing about Laureth’s voice that struck me as particularly authentic. I’ve never read a YA book with a blind protagonist, which is a pity, but Laureth’s double standards bothered me immensely. On the one hand, she tried very hard not to let anyone notice she was blind. She hid it right up until someone backed her into a corner and forced her to admit it. On the other hand, she would get offended and upset when people treated her like she wasn’t blind – for example, when people she ran into (while pretending not to be blind) dared to complain.
She Is Not Invisible is a clear example of an author trying too hard: to be original, occasionally funny and true to life, and through it all, to deliver those Very Important Messages we all seem to need. Somehow, in this grand effort, simpler and more important things were neglected and lost: things like substance and plausibility.
The already short narrative was burdened with a long, tedious study of coincidence, which was the reason behind the disappearance of Laureth’s father. Instead of being clever, excerpts from his little notebook (that served as Laureth’s guide), were very disruptive to the plot and, to be blunt, incredibly boring.
But most of all, I find it hard to believe that a 16-year-old blind girl would be able to travel unnoticed from London to New York with a 7-year-old boy in tow. The idea that US customs would neglect to check her documents because they were otherwise distracted is slightly ludicrous. I have no trouble suspending disbelief when I know that’s what’s expected of me, but in a book that strives to be realistic, details like that are very out of place.
Overall, She Is Not Invisible is not a book I’d recommend, despite the gorgeous writing. The story is poorly planned and plotted and its protagonist completely unmemorable.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.