She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
After reading and really liking Marcus Sedgwick’s story in the UKYA Christmas anthology, I went straight to my local library to see which of his stand alones were available. It turns out they had not one but three copies of She is Not Invisible, so this was obviously The One To Read.
She is Not Invisible follows Laureth and her little brother Ben on their transatlantic journey to find their missing father, who’s supposed to be in Europe when his notebook turns up in New York City. It’s a bit of a spontaneous idea, and one that’s extremely risky, but when has taking your seven year old sibling on a ten hour flight without parental supervision ever been a bad idea?
Laureth’s dad is famous author Jack Peak who is absolutely obsessed with coincidences, that could be the reason for his disappearance and subsequent undoing. This is where the thriller part comes in, but I’m not going to spoil anything, of course.
It sounds pretty juicy, but in actuality, I wanted the book to be a lot quicker to the punch. It takes a while to get the ball rolling on the quest to find Jack, and even though Laureth and Ben do manage to zip about NYC fairly easily, the amount of stuff they discover is upsettingly minimal.
Also, unless you’re genuinely interested in coincidences yourself, some of the additional extracts from Jack’s notebook didn’t grab my attention.
Laureth – So, while Laureth is really independent and logical, she’s also blind. Cool, right? This was something the blurb completely failed to mention, which I thought was extremely flawed because then I would have picked the book up in an instant. In fact, I may have actually bought it rather than just borrowing it from the library. I absolutely loved how her blindness affected the narrative, and brought up all the ignorant and annoying things that visually impaired people have to deal with. But, Laureth, just like everyone else, isn’t defined by her disability, and does a great job of explaining why, too.
Ben – What a great kid. He’s so lovely to Laureth and a general sport to all the shenanigans.
Michael – Initially a hindrance for withholding information from the Peak siblings, but turns out to be the best character in the whole book when he sets his crew on the bad guys and questions Laureth’s assumption that he’s white. Even if she is blind, and doesn’t have any concept of skin colour, it was still a great point.
Overall, I liked She is Not Invisible, but not for the reasons I thought I would based on the blurb. It was a pleasant surprise to be presented with so much diversity that I wasn’t expected, and would have appreciated being signposted. But as far as the thriller goes…not for me. Totally would recommend if you want a great cast of characters though, because in this case, they’re what really makes the story great!
What books have you read where one of the many characters is differently abled? Would you fly to New York on the whim your parent or guardian was there…seriously, I want to know who would do this?