This week I discovered a whole new level of writer envy when I read Marcus Sedgwick's SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE.
His protagonist, Laureth, is on a quest from the UK to the US to find her missing father, with her younger brother in tow.
The twist is, she is blind.
Think about that for a moment. How heavily do we rely on visual descriptive detail when we write, and read? Now imagine trying to make scenes come alive without any of that. Yes.
And guess what? It works. Sedgwick nails it. In the process, he gives us a unique, admirable, fascinating, brave female protagonist who doesn't let her handicap stop her from getting what she wants. She's so matter of fact about her blindness that I began to pay less attention to it, too, and focused on the mystery of their missing father.
It is one of the tidiest, most well-thought out novels I've read in some time. Every detail counts. Nothing is wasted.
An added pleasure for me is that Laureth's missing father, Jack Peak, is a novelist who has been working on a new book about coincidence. It has taken up most of his time, appears to have cost him both his sanity and his marriage as he obsessively researches Edgar Allen Poe, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, the number 354, and the Hound of Heaven. Most recently he's been on a research trip to Switzerland, but when Laureth doesn't hear from him in a week she grows concerned. Then she receives a mysterious email from someone in New York claiming to have found her father's precious notebook.
The notebook provides a fascinating piece of metafiction, as we chuckle with Sedgwick about the writing mind and creative process as Laureth asks her younger brother to read the contents to her in the hope that it will provide clues to his whereabouts.
All in all SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE was a rollicking good read, and I whizzed through it in one afternoon, unwilling to leave Laureth until she'd accomplished her goal, even though that didn't come about in quite the way she expected.
Description from Goodreads...
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.
I'm curious... which cover do you prefer—the US or UK edition?