What’s it all about?:
The feeling that coincidences give us tells us they mean something… But what? What do they mean?
LAURETH PEAK’S father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. When he goes missing while researching coincidence for a new book, Laureth and her younger brother fly from London to New York and must unravel a series of cryptic messages to find him. The complication: Laureth is blind. Reliant on her other senses and on her brother to survive, Laureth finds that rescuing her father will take all her skill at spotting the extraordinary, and sometimes dangerous, connections in a world full of darkness.
From acclaimed storyteller Marcus Sedgwick, She Is Not Invisible is a gripping contemporary thriller threaded with unsettling coincidence and a vivid and convincing portrayal of a young woman living without sight.
What did I think?:
I’ve wanted to read a book of Marcus Sedgwick’s for so long after hearing many positive things about him so She Is Not Invisible seemed a great place to start. It it essentially a short-ish YA novel told from the point of view of a sixteen year old female protagonist called Laureth, but the difference with this character is that she is blind. Her father is a successful author and is in the middle of researching his new book in Europe which sees him investigating coincidence, the theories of people like Einstein and Jung and the peculiar significance of the number 354. Laureth has not heard from him in a while and is quietly concerned (unlike her mother who doesn’t seem to give two hoots) but alarm bells start ringing when she receives a mysterious email from someone in New York who claims to have possession of her father’s beloved notebook and as proof, he sends a copy of a few of the pages.
Her mother is going away for the weekend and entrusts the care of Laureth’s seven year old brother Benjamin on her. Instead Laureth, now desperately worried, decides to use her mother’s credit card to get her and Benjamin from the UK to New York in search of her father. A tough mission for any ordinary sixteen year old girl but imagine when you have to consider being blind as one of your challenges? I found myself absolutely thrilled by both the character of Laureth with her strength, resilience and determination and the adorable Benjamin who just leapt off the pages for me as someone I could give a giant hug to! Benjamin has a stuffed raven (called Stan) who he won’t be parted from and constantly whispers to as if he is bringing the toy up to speed on their current situation. Benjamin also has hidden strengths within himself that come to light as the novel continues and he plays a crucial part in guiding his sister around the melting pots of sounds, smells and noises that is New York, allowing her to see the city through him.
Another important part of this story is Mr Peak’s notebook which we see glimpses of from time to time as the two children try to find clues about where their father may be. It is very philosophical and often had me wondering about the nature of coincidence… it all became a bit spooky. Several reviewers didn’t really enjoy this part of the novel and some found that the excerpts from the notebook didn’t really add much to the narrative but personally I really enjoyed it as something a bit different from the usual manner of story-telling. I was especially excited about the parts written regarding the number 354 and then guess what page She Is Not Invisible finishes on? Yes, 354. There are many other instances, including the ending where the author shows just how meticulous he has been in writing the novel, everything adds up just right and although I was surprised, I think it was a nice way to end the book.
I do think that this book will probably split some people and it seems to have done just that by the reviews I have read already. Some may find the philosophical bits not to their taste, others may have been expecting something different from the ending. For me, it was a unique and exciting tale that shows YA characters can have disabilities and still be strong (in some cases, stronger) characters too and I hope that other authors will be inspired to step up and promote/recognise disabilities in their work also. From an absolutely brilliant first line:
“One final time I told myself I wasn’t abducting my little brother.”
to when I turned the final page, I was engrossed in Laureth’s story and didn’t want it to end. I will definitely be looking out for more work by Marcus Sedgwick, he has an undeniable talent for beautiful prose and a thought-provoking plot.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):