5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Most sixteen year olds would probably be terrified at the very idea of travelling to New York with no-one but a much younger brother (and his stuffed toy raven) for company, with no idea of where they will be staying or what they’ll find when they reach their destination. Laureth Peak is looking for her father, who is prone to disappearing for several days at a time, but this time she has reason to think something bad has happened. So, accompanied by her little brother, she steals her mum’s credit card, buys two plane tickets to New York, and flies across the Atlantic. You might say that perhaps taking her brother with her would only make the search more difficult, but here’s the thing – Laureth is blind.
Obviously I can’t say this book was an accurate depiction of what it is to be blind. I have no right to say that, nor do I have any idea what it would be like. But I do feel that Marcus Sedgwick’s writing both revealed and hid things from the view of the reader, as if something was just out of your sight or a little blurry – and at times, completely unseen. With his descriptions, which were of course Laureth’s, I was never able to get a clear cut picture of the scene around the characters. Just like Laureth, I relied on Benjamin (her little brother) for images of the surroundings, and this worked really well.
Disabilities and impairments are not often represented in Young Adult fiction, or fiction in general, that frequently. Often, they seem to enhance another ability or sense in a superhero-esque way, or make the character seem weak and helpless. But Laureth is not weak, or helpless. She doesn’t know any other way of life, being born blind, and she doesn’t resent the fact that she was. She lives a normal life, and it gives out such a positive message. Her blindness barely hinders her, and her main fear is not being unable to do something, but people being aware that she is blind and judging her. I don’t really want to say she is brave, for fear of sounding patronising, but that’s what she is. I’d be pretty scared of flying to New York by myself, and I’m twenty-three – and Laureth doesn’t even know what she’ll find at the other end. She is intelligent and mature, and her narrative voice is lovely, as well as wonderfully quirky at times – mostly thanks to her dad’s journal entries.
I thought that She Is Not Invisible was a truly delightful book, highly original and a breath of fresh air. The way that Laureth and Benjamin worked together was adorable, not to mention the ‘conversations’ between Benjamin and his toy raven, Stan. It’s not particularly fast-paced, and some may find the portions of Laureth’s father’s journal dull – but no book is going to please everyone. A very thought-provoking read.