Combining a couple of my favorite ways to find new reads, this “what I just read” edition of “what I’m reading now” is an advanced reader copy (ARC) of a book by an award winner! Marcus Sedgwick won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and his new book comes out April 22 (and is already on order at the library!)
What I’m Reading Now: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
What’s It About (Jacket Description): Laureth Peak’s father is a writer. For years he’s been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he’s obsessed, Laureth thinks he’s on the verge of a breakdown. He’s supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother’s credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.
Do I Like It: Absolutely! It’s a gripping read.
Thoughts: She Is Not Invisible is a fast, easy read – which is why I’ve finished it before having a chance to write a review! – but that hasn’t stopped it from being great. When a character spends the opening line of a book trying to convince herself that she’s not abducting her little brother, the book will inevitably suck a reader in. And as Laureth and Benjamin try and navigate airports and New York, and follow clues that will bring them to their father, the pace doesn’t really slow down. There is mystery and excitement aplenty as Laureth and Benjamin gradually get closer to their father.
Deciphering hints in the notebook through the haze of her father’s obsession, Laureth and Benjamin slowly begin to piece together what happened to their father. Although I found the ending to be a bit of a letdown, the journey Laureth takes to get there is wonderful. Even the side characters – particularly the strange-spoken but endearing Mr. Walker – were fantastic characters in their own right that I wanted to see more of. And Laureth was a great narrator to take a journey with. Getting to experience her way of navigating the world without sight was new to me, but more importantly, getting inside her head was fascinating. Laureth has some of her father’s knack for spotting patterns and coincidences, along with a strong impulsive streak and a bravery and confidence that are only partly faked.
Easily my favorite part of the book though, more than the excitement or mystery or even Laureth’s point of view and character, is the relationship between Laureth and Benjamin. They are both unusual kids, and it’s clear they find solace in each other. The only thing that makes Laureth slow down on her quest for her father is her care and concern for Benjamin. And despite his age, Benjamin takes care of Laureth in more ways than just guiding her. The way they love each other is so clear in everything they do, from Benjamin snuggling against Laureth while he sleeps to Laureth talking to Benjamin’s stuffed raven just as if he really were alive. They trust each other as well, which in the end is extremely important to the plot of the book and the growth of Laureth’s character. I’m a sucker for a good friend or sibling relationship, and despite their age difference, Laureth and Benjamin are both.