Children’s Book Blog: Recommended read – She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
To mark Read for RNIB Day which takes place on October 11th, I thought I’d recommend the latest book by multi-award-winning YA author Marcus Sedgwick, a gripping mystery with a blind teenage heroine.
What’s the story?
When 16-year-old Laureth Peak’s writer father goes missing, she embarks on a spontaneous mission to New York to track him down, dragging her seven-year-old brother, Benjamin, with her. The only clue she has to go on is her father’s mysterious notebook, which documents his obsession with coincidences and the number 354. But the task turns out to be much more difficult – and dangerous – than she could have anticipated, made all the more challenging by the fact that Laureth is blind.
Who’s it for?
Mystery-lovers, especially teenage ones.
Why should I read it?
Marcus Sedgwick is perhaps best known for his fantastical and often rather gothic tales that dabble in everything from ghosts and vampires to reincarnation and ritual sacrifice. While She Is Not Invisible certainly touches on the mystical at times, the majority of the story is grounded firmly in the real world – specifically in the bustling streets of New York City, which comes across more vividly than ever through the sounds, smells, temperature changes and unexpected collisions experienced by the book’s heroine, Laureth.
Though this book will no doubt make sighted people think more empathically about what it means to be blind – dealing with other people’s awkward reactions to her blindness is one of Laureth’s biggest day-to-day challenges – this is not solely a book about blindness. Besides being a page-turning mystery, it’s also a touching study of the innate bond between siblings, the terror of losing a parent and the many faces of prejudice.
It also manages to sneak in a sizeable helping of maths, physics and psychology, cunningly disguised as the pages of Laureth’s dad’s notebook. You could easily skim over these without losing too much of the story – a bit like the philosophy sections in Sophie’s World – but if you did, you’d be missing out on a fascinating glimpse into several weird and wonderful branches of science explained more clearly and entertainingly than you are likely to find anywhere else.
Sedgwick’s prose is as crisp and clear as always, without losing a single fathom of emotional depth, and Laureth and Benjamin will resonate soundly with anyone who has ever negotiated the ups and downs of sibling relationships.
Best character: Michael, a peculiarly eloquent 12-year-old who finds Laureth’s dad’s notebook under a railway bridge in Queens, thus setting the wheels of the adventure in motion. Benjamin’s best friend, Stan, is also pretty likeable, especially given he’s a stuffed toy raven.
Best line: There’s a word for that feeling that we are in touch with something great, something powerful, something outside ourselves, and that word is NUMINOUS.
If I like this, what other books might I like?
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Rebecca Davies is a journalist and children’s author and completed her middle-grade novel, Shirley Smart and the Nix’s Curse earlier this year. You can read more of her children’s book blogs here
Follow Rebecca on Twitter @TheStoryMonsterTagged in: Laureth Peak, Marcus Sedgwick, Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone, RNIB Day, She Is Not Invisible, Sophie’s World, young adult fiction
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