BookPage Teen Top Pick, May 2014
When 16-year-old Laureth receives an email stating that her writer father’s notebook (which he’s never without) has been found in New York, rather than in Switzerland or Austria (where she thought he was), she suspects that something very bad has happened to her dad. Her mother doesn’t seem to care about the missing notebook, or about her father’s inability to return voicemails. So Laureth takes matters into her own hands, enlisting her 7-year-old brother Benjamin (and his inseparable stuffed raven named Stan) to help her travel from London to New York in search of their father.
Why does she need her younger brother’s help? Because Laureth is blind, and although she can quite capably navigate the landmarks of her home, school and neighborhood, she knows she can’t negotiate international travel on her own without seeming helpless or vulnerable—the very last things she wants to be.
Soon Laureth and Benjamin are involved in a tense and risky search. Even after they find their dad’s notebook, which is filled with increasingly cryptic and disordered notes about the power and limits of coincidence, they can’t find the man himself—and it appears they may not be the only ones trying to track down his trail.
Sedgwick’s remarkable novel is reminiscent of Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery in its sensitive and perceptive portrayal of difference, as well as its recognition that all kinds of people can investigate mysteries and solve problems. The narration from Laureth’s point of view manages to be rich and detailed without relying on visual descriptions. Most importantly, Laureth is depicted as a complex and vibrant character quite apart from her blindness, a fully realized person for whom courage is a daily decision rather than an extraordinary virtue. She Is Not Invisible is not only a compelling thriller; it’s also a portrayal of disability that is neither patronizing nor aggrandizing, but rather exquisitely sympathetic and true.