She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
|She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Laureth is the daughter of a writer, and she knows how hard it is for them to tell fact from fiction. But this time things have gone too far, and her dad has disappeared. Her mother doesn't seem to care, so it's up to Laureth to find him.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 354||Date: October 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Laureth is used to her father's writerly obsessions and enthusiasms. She's accepted the fact that he will hare off across the world in search of some obscure information for a story, and the fact that he rarely asks her about herself and her life at school, preferring to lecture her instead about his latest theory. He even pays her to answer the fan mail on his website for him. And, like it or not, there's nothing she can do about the barely suppressed hostility that has grown in recent years between her parents.
Things are different now, though. Jack Peak is supposed to be in Switzerland, so why has an email arrived suggesting he's in New York? Or at least, his Black Book is – and photographic proof soon follows, just so she knows it's not some crazy scam. Laureth is certain her dad would never willingly be separated from all the notes for his next book: like most writers he'd rather lose a limb, so something has to be seriously wrong. She alerts her mother but gets nowhere: the marriage is under strain and her mother refuses to believe Jack has had some sort of breakdown, or is somehow in danger. He's just being his usual irritating self. So Laureth sets off to find her father herself. It's no small undertaking: not only does she have to cross the Atlantic (challenge enough for any sixteen-year-old) to talk to the person who found the notebook, she also has to take her seven-year-old brother with her. In fact, she can't do it without him, because Laureth is blind.
Much has been said in recent years about the importance of including everyone in books, whatever their colour, creed or ability. And not just as sad little victims of bullying, either: all children should be able to find people like themselves in fiction, as active, cheeky, clever or naughty individuals who also happen to be disabled or from a different background. This book is an excellent example of how to do that. Laureth feels no pity for herself, and she doesn't ask for it. After all, she says, she can't miss what she's never experienced. And she's quick to dispel all those myths about blind people's other senses being enhanced: load of rubbish! She has her skills, and her little brother has his, and they complement each other, that's all. No fuss, no drama. What's important is the hunt for her father, not some saccharine look-how-brave-she's-being nonsense.
There's another uncompromising aspect to this superb book. Marcus Sedgwick doesn't speak down to his teen readers. He tells it how it is, without footnotes or gloss, and it's up to the reader to decide how much they want to take from his books. A rollicking good adventure? No problem – that's there and easily available. Just let your eyes slide across the bits in italics and jump to the next event. It would be a shame to do that, though, because for those prepared to deal with it, there's much, much more in this boo: theories and philosophies and ideas which stretch the reader and give the adventure far greater depth and resonance. Not many novels, for adults or younger folk, contain whole pages of notes on people such as Einstein, Jung and Koestler, but this one does, because it shows what Jack Peak believes on the nature of coincidence, and it is by understanding that that Laureth and Benjamin (with the help of Stan the stuffed raven) resolve the crisis.
Oh, and Mr Sedgwick? That last paragraph? Brilliant!
You can read more book reviews or buy She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.