Welcome to the She is Not Invisible blog tour! I have a review, a Q&A with the author, and a giveaway for our readers!
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.
What’s that? Another 5-star book from Marcus Sedgwick? Are we at all surprised? Every time I pick up another one of his titles, I know that I can expect something amazing. Every book I’ve read by Sedgwick so far – White Crow, Revolver and Midwinterblood – have all been 5-star reads from me, and She Is Not Invisible is no exception to this rule.
She Is Not Invisible is told from the perspective of Laureth, a blind teenager who pretty much has her world figured out, but is totally overcome with the idea of venturing out into the real world. But she feels that she must when she receives an email that her famous author father’s notebook has turned up in America, even though he was supposed to be in Sweden. Panicked and angry, Laureth just knows that something horrible has happened to her father, so unbeknownst to her mother, she takes her 7 year old brother and drags him from London, England, to New York City. Of course, you do have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit when imagining a blind teen girl and a young boy traveling across the globe on their own in a post-9/11 world and getting by with a typed letter of permission from their parents. But Sedgwick was able to take that strange situation and fill it with remarkably believable characters. Laureth’s perspective was especially realistic. The way the author was able to convey her experience in New York and with her blindness was mind-blowing. It was so convincing and so utterly real that even though I knew I was reading words from the pages, I still could feel the stifling claustrophobia of losing my own sight. It was the strangest sensation, but when a book is able to convince you that you have entirely changed, you know it’s got to be amazing.
I have to be honest: this book kind of fried my brain. Though not long, Invisible deals with some out there theories about coincidences and their perceived meaningfulness and their causes. Throughout the narrative, there were small snippets of Laureth’s father’s journal. Her dad, Jack, had been totally obsessed with a book idea for nearly a decade. It took over his entire life, or so it seemed, if you asked his wife. The journal entries were really, really fascinating: they told of Jung, Einstein and a slew of other scientists and their studies on coincidences. Jack detailed all the strange occurrences that linked these men together. He was bent on finding meaning in all of these coincidences – just the same as they were. Some of it was hard to wrap my mind around, tying together psychology and physics, but I loved that the author never talked down to his readers.
There is a lot of build up to the end, and I think that it might actually disappoint quite a lot of readers. But I thought it was perfect. The book set out to send a message, and it came to the same conclusions as Jack did. At the same time, though, Laureth isn’t totally convinced by her father’s findings. In all, it was a lot of fun connecting the dots and trying to find hidden meaning within every word.
Marcus Sedgwick’s books aren’t exactly for everyone. He does not write to trend; instead, he tells powerful and timeless stories that oftentimes defy classification and genre. Sometimes, his writing is totally ‘out there.’ But I believe that She Is Not Invisible, with its familiar setting, contemporary world, and approachable main character will be able to bridge the gap between his normal weirdness and those readers who are reluctant to pick up his work. She Is Not Invisible was at times powerful, poignant, and edge-of-your-seat intense.
No, I didn’t know that. I always liked writing but never thought I could be one of those people who actually writes books. So it took me until I was around 26 to start in a serious way.
2. What kind of research went into creating and writing Laureth’s character?
Having decided to take on the challenge of writing with a blind-from-birth protagonist in the first person, I knew I needed to do some serious research. I read a lot of auto biographies by blind people, but the main thing I did was spend a year or so making visits to a unique school in England: New College, where every student is blind or visually impaired in of some way. It was only with the incredible help I received there. The staff and students were all so willing to be open and honest and generous and without that assistance I could never have come close to creating Laureth properly.
3. Do you think you have anything in common with your characters?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that a writer is close to all their characters in some ways, but no, not in the sense that any of them are exactly me. Even the character of Laureth’s dad in She Is Not Invisible, who is a writer, and a writer obsessed with coincidence at that, is not me. Elements of him are things that have happened to me as a writer, but he is still very different from who I am.
4. What is the best part about writing for a young audience? What is the hardest part?
The freedom is the best thing. There is no hardest part, I love it all. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to write. The only bit that feels like work is rewrites, and even then, not always. I’m very very lucky.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write what excites you and obsesses you. Write it free and honestly. Don’t over think things. Give yourself a break once in a while. And never ever give up.
6. What’s next?
Lots of things: I have a new YA novel coming out next year, called a The Ghosts of Heaven. And then I have the first book specifically for adults coming out sometime after that. It’s called A Love Like Blood and is a dark, but old fashioned thriller.