Book Review: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
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 quiet book is a charmer, although it was nothing like what I’d expected. In She Is Not Invisible, Laureth searches for her missing father by taking her 7-year-old brother on a flight from London to New York — without parental permission, I might add — and based on the barest scraps of clues, spends two days scouring the city for hints that might lead to her brilliant but unpredictable father.
Their father seems to have become obsessed with the study of coincidence in the last several years, focusing especially on certain numbers that show up repeatedly in his life in significant and potentially meaningful ways. As Laureth and Benjamin follow the hints, they too begin to look for the special numbers and odd patterns, the things that seem to be inexplicable yet seem to occur often enough that they must have secret meaning. Or do they?
Meanwhile, Laureth herself is an interesting character. Blind since birth, she wears dark glasses, relies on her IPhones voice capabilities, and has worked out a hand-squeeze system with Benjamin that in essence turns him into her seeing eye dog. She’s a person who forces herself to project confidence and presence; otherwise, as she’s learned, people can’t seem to see her as a real person. So who’s really the blind one here?
She Is Not Invisible includes some interesting thoughts about family and relationships, being different, fitting in and sticking out. The ruminations on the nature of coincidences and whether such things actually even exist are interesting, but don’t really go anywhere. The action is rather muted. The children spend their time rushing from clue to clue, and I could help but cringe at the idea of these two on their own in the city with almost no ability to care for themselves, no way to communicate with their mother, and no way to find their father.
Still, the writing is snappy and keeps things interesting, even when the plot seems to stall out as Laureth contemplates her father’s secret notes and what they might mean. The book contains hints and puzzles of its own, as the author has embedded certain patterns and numbers within the writing itself that are rather fun to track down. (Note: Sadly, this was hard to do, as my ARC was badly formatted, missing the chapter breaks and hand-written asides that end up being important to the story).
Do I recommend She Is Not Invisible? Yes, but. If you’re looking for action, danger, and maybe even special powers or abilities, possibly this isn’t the book for you. But if you enjoy a thoughtful approach with some quirky treats, give it a try!
Title: She Is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Young adult fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of Macmillan via NetGalley