Title: She Is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Year Published: 2013
Page Count: 354
She is Not Invisible was a book that had me so excited to read. I was so intrigued with the blurb of the book, and all the covers I had seen were equally beautiful. Though upon completion, I was completely disappointed with this book. It was not what I was expecting and I had way too many problems with it. I am so disappointed with it that I kind of wish I never bought it.
She is Not Invisible follows the story of Laureth, a sixteen-year-old blind girl who refuses to let her disability rule her life. When Laureth’s father, a well-known author, disappears, Laureth takes it in her stride to find out where he’s gone. The only clue to finding him lies in his notebook which has turned up in New York. Semi-kidnapping her younger brother Ben, Laureth takes off to New York to find answers as to how their father ended up missing there when he was supposed to be somewhere in Europe. The notebook is filled with his research on coincidences, a topic he has been obsessed with for years, and as Laureth and Ben investigate the mystery, it becomes a question that perhaps their father’s obsession with coincidences was his downfall.
I think my biggest problem with this book was the believability. It stretched it a little too far for my liking. I mean, first off, Laureth manages to get herself and her younger brother on an international flight with barely anyone asking her any questions. This just doesn’t seem believable. And when they were first going through security at the airport in London, there was an officer who was really rude to Laureth because he didn’t realise she was blind – I find this hard to believe. This guy works in an airport, and a part of his job would be to observe body behaviour. I’m sure he would have realised that she was blind. The biggest part though was when Laureth and Ben arrived in America. I’ve visited America three times, and every single time on arrival I’ve been questioned, and had fingerprint and eye scans. Their security is intense. They ask for the address of the first place your staying both in person and on the card you declare stuff on the plane, and I believe it is a federal offence to lie. I struggle to comprehend how Laureth and Ben managed to get by relatively easy. I mean, they literally just let them go through after saying they were getting a supervisor but not actually getting the supervisor. This would never ever happen. America cares way too much about who they’re letting into the country. This was the point in the book where I was officially letting down my expectations. I knew that it could only get worse from this point on.
There were even more questionable points of believability. When the kids went to their father’s hotel and answered one simple question, they were immediately allowed to go up to his room. No hotel would ever do this. This would be a massive breach in their privacy policies. Furthermore, the events in this book take place in a 24-hour period (or around there). Laureth and Ben barely eat, and they don’t sleep really at all – there is no way they had the strength to undertake all the events that they did in this time period. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with so many questionable things in it.
I also struggled with ‘The Ben Effect’. Basically in the book, most technological devices that Ben touched stop working. Phones, computers, the entertainment system on planes, even the fingerprint scanning technology in airports. I felt that this was just a convenient thing to add in. I don’t really see how it added value to the story. What was the point in this? It infuriated me.
Also, Laureth doesn’t get in any trouble from her parents for freaking kidnapping her brother and flying to a different country. I don’t get this! I honestly don’t. She put them through so much worry for both her and her brother, and she literally isn’t in any trouble. What is wrong with parents in young adult novels? It’s literally like they don’t exist anymore.
Beyond the believability, none of the characters were particularly strong or memorable. Even whilst writing this review I have typed Laureth as Laurel so many times and not noticed until I’ve reread my paragraphs maybe six or seven times. That is how memorable the main character was. I thought Laureth would have been an interesting character due to her blindness. Not many characters in young adult fiction are blind. And yes, Sedgwick wrote well enough to make you see how the other senses are important to the blind, but Laureth wasn’t a particularly likable character. To me she was rather flat. I didn’t really have an opinion on her. I felt that her running off to New York though was stupid and irrational. Especially the part where she semi-kidnapped her brother. I mean, people are obviously going to be caring about where you run off to and she still did it anyways. And when you find out at the end how much of a big misunderstanding it was of the father’s disappearance it makes her irrational actions even more over the top.
I did think Ben was a sweet character, and I liked his and Laureth’s relationship together. His obsession with his stuffed raven (I feel like it wasn’t a raven but I can’t remember what other bird it was) was a little annoying though. I mean this kid is like seven or something? Isn’t this past the stage of talking to a stuffed animal? Now I sound like a bitch. Sorry not sorry. I still don’t understand why he just went with Laureth and didn’t question her more. Obviously their parents wouldn’t have given them permission to just fly to New York casually.
I think my problem with the secondary characters was just everyone only existed in the scene they were in. None of the characters that Laureth and Ben meet stick around outside of the scenes they are in (with the exception of a few such as their parents). For example, Laureth and Ben meet a guy on the plane called Sam. He is nice to both of them, but as soon as he learns that Laureth is blind he closes up and shows his true colours. He does offer right before getting off the plane to give Laureth his number just in case, but she refuses to take it. I feel like he was written in this scene to just help Laureth and Ben on the plane. That is all. He talks to them for a few hours, helps them with their incoming passenger card, and then he is gone. It’s almost as if Sedgwick used the idea of discrimination towards people with disabilities to explain the absence of a character.
Another time such a thing happened was when Laureth and Ben are sitting in some park. A man calls out to them and it is written in a way that makes you feel wary of this man. Laureth talks to him, asking him if a certain number means anything to him. This man explains about numbers as a way of describing street locations in New York and then Ben and Laureth leave him. Why was this man calling out to them in the first place? This is not answered. I just honestly feel like this character existed only so someone could explain how to give directions in New York.
As I mentioned earlier, the father has an obsession with coincidences, and this book deals with this theme a lot. Now I’m going to admit that the coincidence theme intrigued me at first. I thought that it had the potential to get me hooked into this book, but it definitely failed to do this. I feel almost as if the book was trying too hard to convince me that coincidences weren’t real. It also tried too hard to be philosophical. So many pages are spent describing different philosophers and their philosophies that it got to a point that I had no idea what was going on anymore. I was so confused, that I just read those pages and didn’t try to make sense of it anymore. I assumed that the author was going to explain it to me at some later point so if I didn’t understand it the first time it would be no big deal. Wrong. I was so wrong. The author instead of doing this decided to make the father just give up on coincidences instead. All those confusing pages therefore, have NO purpose in the book. None. Why include them if you plan on dismissing them just 100 pages later. I just don’t get it! I honestly feel that the potential of this coincidence theme could have been so amazing, and instead I was majorly let down.
A final negative thing about this book is that once you learn about what happens to the father, it leaves you even more disappointed. I’m not going to go too into detail, as I don’t really want to spoil the book, but anticlimactic much?
I normally try and add some part of positivity to my reviews for books that I struggle with, but this book really doesn’t have a whole lot going that was impressive to me. The Father had an obsession with the number 354, and I liked that there were 354 pages in the book (well played Sedgwick). I also love the cover because I think it is beautiful. And there is also the hidden message revealed if you take the first word from each chapter and put it together. I’ll save you the task of flicking to every single first page of the chapter and post the message here:
One thing when you learn what she deals with you might love the blind girl who knows it’s never been her sight that she needs that it’s trust love and faith also.
But if the only positive things I can say about the book have to do with page numbers, covers, and hidden messages, then I think this is saying something to you about this book.
So my overall verdict for She is Not Invisible is 2 stars. It was okay, but it could have been better. My struggles with the believability of pretty much the entire book, and my issues with the philosophy included and its overall dismissal of importance were the major bad parts of this book for me. I liked the inclusion of a blind character, as this is a character voice I have never read before, however I feel like there was the potential for this to be explored further. Basically, She is Not Invisible is a disappointment, and if you are considering reading this but are torn between choosing between more than one book, I would say choose a different book, you’re not missing anything by not reading this.
Also, my sincerest apologies for not posting these last few weeks! I have been so incredibly busy juggling final uni assignments and exams, two internships, my normal part-time job, and then socialising and leisure time! Uni has finished until March though and I have big plans to get super organised with my blog posting and review writing!