She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick is a fascinating, psychological style thriller for the teen/YA market, which has an unusual twist.
It’s protagonist, a sixteen year old girl called Laureth Peak, is blind.
Laureth is the narrator of the story, in which she embarks upon a seemingly impossible journey to New York from London with only her seven year old brother, Benjamin, and his toy crow, Stan to help her.
Laureth’s dad is a famous author who has been struggling for the past few years to write a book about coincidence and synchronicity which has pushed him to the edge of obsession and beyond. The toll the failure to write the book takes impacts on his relationship with his children, his wife and his reading public.
At the start of the book, he has supposedly gone to Switzerland to research a connection which might give him the breakthrough he needs. Laureth is in charge of her dad’s fan mail, and she opens an email which claims to be from someone who has found one of her dad’s precious notebooks, where he jots down all his ideas, in New York.
Laureth cannot understand why his notebook, which he won’t be parted from, has turned up in New York, when he is supposed to be in Switzerland. She feels that something is terribly wrong, and when she can’t get her mother to take her seriously, she is determined to set off and find him herself.
This is a remarkable book which weaves together all kinds of stories and ideas from the straightforward thriller that you can read and enjoy at face value, to a study of the psychology and madness of coincidence, to what it is to be blind in a world of sighted people, and how it can make you feel invisible when you want to be seen, and stand out when you don’t.
Laureth is an engaging heroine, and her experiences of being unsighted in a sighted world are by far the strongest part of the book for me. Sedgwick teamed up with the RNIB to release this book, and it has been released in braille and on audio book simultaneously with its paper publication.
I would recommend this book for children of 12 to 16, not because it is too adult in its material, but because I think some of the sections about synchronicity, probability theory and physics might be too complex for younger readers. I recommend it for both boys and girls as gender is not something that colours the book particularly.