She Is Not Invisible
Released: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Rating: 4 stars
Word Rating: Utterly fascinating
Reviewed by: Blythe
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.
Before I get to anything else, it should be said that I thought this was really wonderful. But, with that having been said, I think She Is Not Invisible will be met with very contrasting opinions soon enough--and it already has, among friends of mine and myself--but knowing that makes me think it's even more wonderful. What I found absolutely fascinating about She Is Not Invisible, others will find boring, I'm sure. Much of the novel--namely the portions regarding Laureth's father's notebook and its contents--reads just like a college lecture or textbook on philosophy, and I think by me telling you just that you'll be able to tell if this book is for you or not. In the end, I think you'll either find this book either a complete waste of time, or utterly profound and clever.
I fall into the latter camp. She Is Not Invisible is a very, very slow moving novel; there's nothing particularly exciting going on until the end, really, but I wouldn't consider that to be one of the book's flaws at all. The book doesn't need breakneck action, and I think that if it were exciting, all the excitement would feel almost out of place. And unnecessary; it has its own layer of intensity when you fully come to terms with the fact that you're seeing things through someone who can't see. I would also definitely consider this literary fiction, and the way in which Marcus Sedgwick writes the perspective of a blind MC is exceptional and interesting.
Also exceptional and interesting is how Sedgwick incorporates philosophy, patterns of the universe, and the true (and thorough) logic behind coincidences into She Is Not Invisible. This is pretty much where the lecture part of the novel kicks in, and although I did think some of it was info-dumpy and at times maybe even a bit overwhelming, for the most part I loved all of the philosophy bits. But, if you're not one for reading a lot of facts about statistics (some about math, which even I found fascinating, and I hate math), and, well, things you'd probably hear in a college philosophy lecture or read in a textbook, She Is Not Invisible might not be for you. However, it's all integral to the story, and I think even if you don't find the subject matter itself interesting, what you may find interesting is how it all relates to what happens in the novel.
The characterization admittedly wasn't the best in my opinion, nor was the big reveal of what happened to the father (which I thought was anticlimactic, but I loved everything about how the characters got to the reveal). Coming out of the novel I'm still not sure if I have a solid feel on who the characters are, but the way in which Laureth's narrative is written is innovative and ballsy and I love it. If I were challenged with the task to write from the perspective of a blind MC, I think I'd cry myself to sleep at night, but Marcus Sedgwick does it damn well. Laureth's perspective brings up subtle points about loneliness and a fantastic point about the things we assume about people when we're given minimal information about them. It made me stop and compare how I see the world and go through it daily to how she does; made me wonder how I would maybe look at the world if I were blind, and how I would even function.
With She Is Not Invisible, Marcus Sedgwick has written one of the most thought-provoking perspectives I've ever read, and really, just one of the most thought-provoking novels I've ever read. It's the type of book that will make you stop and think about how you see the world at any given moment; it will make you think about coincidences, and the almost-coincidences, and will have you begin to notice them in your life. I know that this book will not be for many readers, but I think that if you're the type who likes it when a book can make you stop in daily life in just think, even after you've finishing reading it, and if you can enjoy the little "lectures" in this novel, She Is Not Invisible will certainly be worth the read. I can almost promise you that.