Roaring Brook Press, $16.99 hardcover, ISBN-10 1596438010, April 2014
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.
While not without its moments, Laureth and Benjamin’s transatlantic jaunt doesn’t quite come off as believable. The idea that a sheltered sixteen-year-old girl and her seven-year-old brother would last a hot minute wandering around New York City is rather far-fetched, even leaving aside the fact that the girl is visually impaired. Actually, I often felt Sedgwick had left aside Laureth’s blindness; it only seems to come up or pose a problem when convenient for the plot. The plot itself rests heavily on convenience, or rather, coincidence, and even though the narrative is supposed to explore the concept of coincidence, the wrap-up still feels rather lazy and random. The story is further bogged down by pages from Laureth’s father’s writing journal, and one has to wonder if Sedgwick himself had those pages lying around and built the rest of the story as an excuse to use them.
Although the blurb calls this a puzzle, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s an actual puzzle story with clues for the reader.
On the other hand, all credit should go to Sedgwick for trying to make a statement about the competence of disabled people. It’s just a shame that theme felt awkwardly shoved into a meandering look at coincidence versus destiny. Teens may still enjoy this book, if only for the simple fact that Laureth puts a huge one over on the adults in her life.
Recommend to: Fans of the author
To buy or not to buy: Supplemental.