I may be developing a mild obsession with Marcus Sedgwick’s books. Seriously, why aren’t more people talking about his work? It’s awesome.
In She is Not Invisible, sixteen-year-old Laureth and her seven-year-old brother fly from their home in London to New York to find their father. He went missing while researching coincidences for a book he is writing. It’s up to Laureth and her brother to make sure he’s safe. The biggest obstacle to finding him is Laureth’s blindness. Since she can’t see, she must rely on her intelligence and her brother to navigate through the unfamiliar streets of New York City.
This book is short, fast-paced, not romance-based, and kept me up way too late at night. It first got my attention because it was described as a “YA thriller,” and I haven’t read many of those. It’s a very compelling story. I would have happily read it in one sitting if I hadn’t been so sleepy.
Laureth is an easy character to root for. She has been blind since birth and relies on her other senses to get around. It’s obvious that the author has done a lot of research on blindness. Laureth has realistic strengths and weaknesses. She knows how to live with her disability, but she’s still insecure about it. I love watching her become more self-confident as the story progresses. She also has to deal with a lot of ignorance from people who can’t understand that she has a different way of navigating through the world. They expect her to behave exactly like a sighted person and get frustrated at her when she can’t.
“People think I have so much faith in myself, but I have none. I have no faith in myself, or in what I can do, and yet people think I can do anything I want.
That's how I seem, but it's an illusion. It's an act, nothing more.” – She is Not Invisible
This book is marketed as YA, but it seems a little young to me. It’s not quite middlegrade, though. I guess it could be called “young young adult.” It doesn’t have the same sense of constant danger as other YA thrillers; it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief; and things are wrapped up neatly at the end. This is probably a perfect transition book for kids who are between middlegrade and young adult. It has the YA writing style without the heavy themes often found in YA.
The suspension of disbelief is what I struggled with most in this book. I didn’t believe that two kids would fly to New York because their father—who seems to have a history of irresponsibility—won’t answer his phone. I didn’t believe that airport security would be so lax. Laureth’s brother’s “ability” seems to exist only to make Laureth’s life harder and doesn’t play enough of a role in the story. I have a feeling that these criticisms are coming from my adult-brain, though. As a child, I would have had an easier time suspending my disbelief.
Despite a few problems with this one, I will gladly continue reading Marcus Sedgwick’s books. Also, I’d highly suggest that all wannabe writers read She is Not Invisible. Since the narrator is blind, there are no visual descriptions in the book. The author has to rely on Laureth’s other senses to let the reader know what’s happening. This is well-done and interesting to read.