Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Macmillian and Netgalley for providing me with an advance reader copy of this book.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with She is Not Invisible, and truthfully what I ended up getting was something I wasn’t at all impressed with. This book has many great ideas, but these great ideas are never fully realized, and often even go ignored. If I could sum this book up into two words it would be wasted potential.
I love the idea of reading a novel where a character has a disability. I love to see how author interpret disability in literature, and I will give Sedgwick credit for creating a very positive approach to this topic. I love the fact that even though Laureth is blind, the novel has a lot of auditory moments where you can sense the heighten of sounds that surround her. But this also leads me into my first set of complaints: half the time the book forgets that Laureth is blind. In a lot of ways this novel is VERY visual, and to the point where you could see the book struggling with what it means to show versus tell, with showing winning out in a few major instances. If your protagonist is blind, shouldn’t the novel lean more towards telling? Well it does to an extent, but you can see the fumbling between both ideologies. A lot of the time Laureth behaved as though she had sight, and seldom were we reminded that she was in fact, a blind person.
I’ll admit, I love that Laureth is strong, but I found myself frustrated by the fact that her being blind felt so meaningless in this novel. Everything felt too easy and to the point where you ask yourself what was the point of making her blind in the first place. Moreover, I thought it was odd how all the adults in this novel seemed so moronic and stupid. In one instance, Laureth and Benjamin are able to get on a plane with ease and without an adult and no one in the airport questions this, even though they probably should? These were the moments where Sedgwick remembered that Laureth was blind, and these moments really ruined what strength he could have gave to this character. I just kept asking myself why he bothered to make her blind if he wasn’t going to use that to its full potential. Every situation that Laureth gets out of also just felt so Scooby-Doo that it was very hard to take the novel seriously. Believe-ability was something I definitely struggled with while reading She is Not Invisible.
It also doesn’t help that the writing in this book is surprisingly boring. For a topic that could have been more interesting than it was, I was horribly disappointed with the narrative flow and use of language. Often philosophical ideas were through in, but the connections were never strong enough to Laureth’s narrative and moreover, they often felt thrown in for the sake of being thrown in. If you’re going to add this type of content, give it a concrete purpose and really make it connect to the narrative in such a way where the reader can appreciate it being there. Then the ending comes along and everything feels so anti-climatic that I felt like the book had been just such a waste of time and potential. I feel like if you’re going to create to a mystery novel with a blind protagonist, you need to make her struggles feel more realistic and honest, and this book felt so hokey a lot of the time that I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not.
I love when authors try to take a chance and include issues of disability within texts. I love being given a new point of view where I get into the shoes of someone else and attempt to understand their trials and tribulations. But the author made everything feel too comfortable and too easy that it killed the intrigue for me. I expected so much from this great idea and I got very little in return. Is it a bad book? No, because the ideas are there, they just happen to be very flawed. If you’re the type of person who struggles to suspend their disbelief and suspend itfar, you will have a hard time with this book and I can’t recommend it. If you’re someone where this doesn’t bother you, there are neat ideas in this story that just needed further exploration. I want to recommend this novel, but considering the end result its a difficult call to make.