She Is Not Invisible
By Marcus Sedgwick
Published by Indigo / Orion
ISBN 978 1 78062 109 8
As a writer, Marcus Sedgwick never does the same thing twice. He has written 12 astute, entirely distinct novels for teenage readers, each filled with crisp and clear writing, and he tells his stories without any talking-down to his readers, or judgments, or twisting a reader's arm to think a particular way.
Sedgwick is one of the best and most versatile YA writers around at the moment. His new novel, She Is Not Invisible, is a smart and captivating contemporary thriller where the plot twists and turns as thriller plots should. But there is far more to it than appears at first.
Sixteen-year-old Laureth's father is a writer whose best days seem to be behind him. It's been years since he's published anything that made any money, and now he's bogged down in writing a book about the power of coincidence. The project is going nowhere, but he won't give it up and go back to writing the funny books that people lapped up.
Unlike her mother, Laureth hasn't lost faith in Dad as a writer, but it's hard. When Laureth reads an email saying that her father's precious notebook has been found in New York, she immediately knows that something is amiss. Dad should be in Europe somewhere doing yet more research. There's no reason for him to be in the Big Apple.
Mum has lost all patience with her husband's idiosyncrasies, and doesn't seem concerned at all about where he is. There is only one thing Laureth can do: find Dad herself.
And so the mystery kicks off. Using her mother's credit card, she buys two air tickets from London to New York, one for her and one for younger brother, Benjamin. In a tense race against time before she and Ben become the subjects of a missing-persons hunt, Laureth intends to track down her father and bring him home.
With its first person narration, this could turn out to be a story like so many currently being released. But now Sedgwick plays his trump card. The reader suddenly realises, although there have been a few clues scattered around, that Laureth is blind. The lack of description in the novel stems from the narrator's lack of sight. Laureth has to rely on her sense of hearing, touch, smell and her little brother's eyes.
Laureth is an awe-inspiring central character and the whole premise of She Is Not Invisible is gripping. Sedgwick has written yet another challenging tale that readers will find difficult to forget when the story is over.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com