Published by: Roaring Brook Press
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.
This is beautiful literary fiction. My favorite part was the writing style. I've never read anything by Marcus Sedgwick, but I know that I'll be reading something of his in the future. There was a faint undertone of dry humor throughout Laureth's perspective that made some of the philosophical elements and less believable plot elements easier to read. It was smooth. So smooth and easy and enjoyable to read. The chapters were short and taut, seamlessly incorporating Laureth's memories of her father with her current reality and building on the mystery in such a way as to render the plot twists unpredictable. And I loved all the little inside jokes slyly inserted for his fans (a running joke on Laureth's father who is famous for writing funny stories and whose attempt with darker stuff wasn't as accepted; Sedgwick poking fun at the reception this novel might get?) and the jokes about writers and their inspiration process.
My second favorite part was Laureth's perspective. Ever since I read this article, I've wanted to read something in YA that portrays that sort of reality accurately. How many YA novels feature blind characters and how many don't fall into some sort of trope? Sedgwick boldly tackles the challenge of writing from a blind teen's perspective and doesn't fall into the trope traps about magical cures or seeing-but-not-seeing. Laureth's everyday realities reflect little things that I've never given much thought to myself because of my privilege and her perspective challenges some of the things we just assume about others. Her perspective always felt authentic to me. Laureth was a wonderful heroine to follow; bold, kind, determined, brave. Brave especially because of her efforts to ensure that she's not invisible to the world, but appears to be a self-confident, assured teen despite her fears.
And my third favorite part was the family unit. I've read a lot of novels recently featuring the portrayal of larger-than-life figures who transition into fallen hero types, but Sedgwick takes that portrayal and makes it subtler. It's not really that Laureth's dad is so larger-than-life that he's inaccessible to her, but that he's still a mystery, despite Laureth filtering his emails for him and listening to his new writing ideas and living with him. A mystery in the way that all people, even parents, are mysteries. The plot is a great metaphor for that. I loved the characterization of Laureth's father - his quirky writer habits and fixation on coincidences and lifestyle choices - and the characterization of Laureth's brother, Benjamin, who might be one of the most adorable seven-year-olds in YA. You get a lot of portrayals of little siblings in YA but not all reach that level of realism. Benjamin is definitely his own character here. It was a treat to read how they all interacted with each other and enhanced Laureth's perspective.
Yes, some plot elements are unbelievable - I can't say that really bothered me, though. Yes, the philosophy was kind of dense - I'm not entirely sure that I've understood everything that Sedgwick was trying to say about coincidences and almost-coincidences, or maybe what the famous thinkers like Jung and Einstein and Pauli were saying, but that's the beauty of She Is Not Invisible. It's thought-provoking. It doesn't offer all the answers even if you learn a lot about theories from those thinkers. And maybe I'll have to read She Is Not Invisible again to understand more, but I know, without a doubt, that I'll not be forgetting this novel anytime soon.