She Is Not Invisible

( 3 )

Overview

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 seven-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 ...

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Overview

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 seven-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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/03/2014
Printz-winner Sedgwick (Midwinterblood) again demonstrates his remarkable versatility, trading the generations-spanning horrors of his recent books for an equally tense contemporary story about coincidence, obsession, and the ways in which we see the world. When 16-year-old Laureth Peak learns that a notebook belonging to her father, a well-known author, has surfaced in New York City, she’s sure something is wrong. Using one of her mother’s credit cards, she buys plane tickets for herself and her younger brother, Benjamin, and flies from London to J.F.K., embarking on a search that takes them across three boroughs. Why would Laureth involve seven-year-old Benjamin in such a risky, impulsive trip? Because she needs him: she’s blind. As the mystery builds, Sedgwick includes increasingly frenzied excerpts from Laureth’s father’s notebook to introduce concepts like apophenia, numinousness, and synchronicity, which are rattling around his brain. Through questions of what—if anything—coincidences mean and a careful and acute account of Laureth’s experience of the world (including the brave, hardened exterior she maintains to keep from becoming invisible in others’ eyes), Sedgwick challenges readers to rethink how they look at life itself. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Etienne Vallee
Do you believe in coincidences? Laureth’s father was a successful writer until he began losing himself in a book about coincidences and their meaning. Now, many years later, he still has not published anything, and family life is hard. When sixteen-year-old Laureth receives an email from someone in New York who has found her father’s book, her mother shows no interest in worrying about her father. It is up to her and to her seven-year-old brother to find her father by flying from London to New York. In a race against time, Laureth and Ben must investigate what happened to her father using the meager clues they have available before their mother discovers her children hopped on a plane and went to America. Told from the perspective of Laureth, this is a mystery similar to countless others. What makes it different, however, is that Laureth is blind. Sedgwick crafts his book without relying on any visual descriptions. Laureth’s perception of the world around her relies on her sense of hearing, touch, smell, and her brother’s vision to help her navigate this unfamiliar and threatening environment. Both Laureth and Ben are well-rounded characters, and Laureth often expands on her feelings and thoughts, sharing with the reader a slice of her life in the world of darkness. Recommend this book to mystery lovers and especially to those who enjoyed Girl, Stolen (Henry Holt, 2010/Voya August 2010). Reviewer: Etienne Vallee; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
05/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Laureth Peak, 16, has just kidnapped her seven-year-old brother and negotiated her way through two major airports on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and is on her way to meet up with someone she's only met via email. The reason for her drastic and dangerous actions? Her author father, who is supposed to be in Switzerland on a research assignment for his esoteric novel on coincidences, is not answering her phone calls and his precious notebook is currently in the possession of a stranger in Queens, NY. The teen sets out on this quest to find her missing father, with a niggling premonition that something sinister has befallen him. However, Laureth is blind, and she needs the aid of her little brother to maneuver through the streets of New York City, fancy hotels, taxis, and subways. The coincidences that pervade the suspenseful novel border on contrivances, but Sedgwick stops just shy of that in this intricately plotted tale that would be right at home as an episode of J. J. Abrams's Lost. The protagonist's first-person narration (which includes no mention of descriptions that involve sight) is interspersed with the pages from her dad's notebook that refer to secret societies, Edgar Allan Poe, philosophy, and physics. Laureth's ability to string together connections while under duress and her sibling's inability to handle devices without circuit breaking them seem quite preternatural and add an air of otherworldliness. At times heavy-handed, this novel will have readers feeling a creepy sensation on the backs of their necks long after the last page.—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-01-29
A thriller that challenges readers' understanding of the universe. Laureth's best-selling novelist father, Jack Peak, left for Switzerland to research his latest book, so why did his notebook turn up in New York City? In this departure from Sedgwick's atmospheric historical fiction and fantasy, the British 16-year-old (named for a shampoo ingredient) suspects foul play. Seizing on her parents' troubled marriage and her mother's trip to visit family, Laureth books a flight to New York. She also takes her younger brother, Benjamin, not just because she's in charge of him, but because she needs him: Laureth is blind. After recovering the notebook, she learns more about her father's latest idea-turned-obsession. Well-known for his humorous books, Jack Peak experienced a coincidence that changed his life—and writing. Since then, he's been chasing down answers to Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity, more commonly known as coincidence. Snippets of his notebook offer true, fascinating revelations about Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, Edgar Allan Poe and other scientists and authors involved in exploring coincidence. Now the determined teen uses the notebook (excerpts of which are printed in faux handwriting interspersed throughout the narrative) to search for clues about her missing father. In short, taut chapters, her first-person narration allows readers to experience the intrigue through her abilities and shows her tender relationship with Benjamin. It's no coincidence that Sedgwick has crafted yet another gripping tale of wonder. (Thriller. 13 & up)
From the Publisher
"Laureth is sixteen, smart, self-doubting, and blind. She is also desperate to find her missing famous author father . . . Readers will applaud Laureth's believable evolution into a more confident - and definitely more visible - young woman." - The Horn Book

 

"This novel will have readers feeling a creepy sensation on the backs of their necks long after the last page." - School Library Journal

 

"Sedgwick takes the somewhat shopworn theme of siblings on a parent hunt to a fascinating new level." - BCCB

 

"In a race against time, Laurel and Ben must investigate what happened to her father using the meager clues they have available . . . Recommend this book to mystery lovers and especially to those who enjoyed Girl, Stolen." - VOYA

 

*"A thriller that challenges readers’ understanding of the universe . . . It’s no coincidence that Sedgwick has crafted yet another gripping tale of wonder." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"This fast-paced thriller delivers a compelling mystery, thought-provoking questions about existence, and brilliantly lifelike characters." - Booklist, starred review

*"Printz-winner Sedgwick (Midwinterblood) again demonstrates his remarkable versatility, trading the generations-spanning horrors of his recent books for an equally tense contemporary story about coincidence, obsession, and the ways in which we see the world." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

What this book proves, is that Marcus is not only one of the greatest British YA writers, but one of the most versatile too. Unlike anything he has written before and a book that will reach a whole new audience. Bloomin' loved it." -Phil Earle, author of Heroic, Being Billy and Saving Daisy

"Marcus Sedgwick doesn't speak down to his teen readers. He tells it how it is, without footnotes or gloss, and it's up to the reader to decide how much they want to take from his books. A rollicking good adventure? No problem - that's there and easily available. Just let your eyes slide across the bits in italics and jump to the next event. It would be a shame to do that, though, because for those prepared to deal with it, there's much, much more in this book: theories and philosophies and ideas which stretch the reader and give the adventure far greater depth and resonance. " -The Bookbag

"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." -Rebecca Davies, The Independent: Children's Book Blog

"Marcus Sedgwick has written a story which really makes you think. He has referred to it as an iceberg and certainly the story can be read on two levels; on the surface a simple story of a girl, Laureth, accompanied by her young brother, Ben and his beloved soft toy, Stan, determined to find their missing father, in spite of Laureth's personal circumstances making this no easy task and, below the surface, a much more complicated story, concerning the nature of obsession and coincidence; all of which leaves you pondering and re-reading. Familial relationships are at the heart of this story and how these can engender love, confidence and faith. Laureth is awe-inspiring and loveable. Her personal journey is totally absorbing". -Gill Perry, Waterstones.com

Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Coincidences, repetitions of the number 354, a mysterious book and a series of unanswered phone calls—all of these come together to convince sixteen-year-old Laureth that her father is in trouble. Her mother does not seem to care or sense the danger; so when she goes away for the weekend, Laureth takes the opportunity to use her mother’s memorized credit card numbers to buy plane tickets for herself and her seven-year-old brother Benjamin. She plans to fly from London to New York City to find their father and bring him home. Simple enough, if a little rash, but add to it the fact that Laureth is blind and things escalate quickly. The two navigate the big city with the help of a slew of coincidences and unlikely allies, escaping a group of thugs, unravelling their fathers’ mystery, and finally being reunited in the end. A mildly intense adventure is heavily sprinkled with historical and scientific tidbits about Edgar Allan Poe, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung and other students of coincidence, God, and destiny. Are coincidences simply a given, based on odds and scientific explanations, or messages from the universe? Perhaps Laureth’s adventures will help the reader decide. Reviewer: Amy McMillan; Ages 13 up.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596438019
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 116,410
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Everyone’s had a great coincidence happen to them, and Marcus Sedgwick, author of Midwinterblood, White Crow, and the Printz Honor–winning Revolver, is no exception. Some very weird things have happened to the author over the years, a few of which have found their way into this book, along with an obsession with the number 354, which has "haunted" him all his life. As a way to finally free himself from this obsession, the number 354 is to be found lurking "between the lines" of the story, in various ways.

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Read an Excerpt

THE FIRST GATE

 

One final time I told myself I wasn’t abducting my little brother.

I swear I hadn’t even thought of it that way until we were on the Underground, and by the time we got to the airport, it was too late for second thoughts, and it was too late to put Mum’s credit card back in her purse.

It was also too late not to have used that credit card to buy us, Benjamin and me, two tickets to New York, and it was without a shadow of a doubt far too late not to have taken out five hundred dollars from the fancy-pants cashpoint at the airport.

But I had done all these things, though I passed at least some of the blame on to Mum for letting me help her with online shopping from time to time, as well as telling me most of her PIN numbers.

However many crimes I’d committed already that morning, I’d done it all for a very good reason, and it must be said that they faded into insignificance next to the thought that I was abducting my brother.

Benjamin, to his credit, was taking the whole thing as only a slightly strange seven-year-old can. He stood patiently, holding my hand, his Watchmen backpack on his back, silently waiting for me to get myself together. Far from screaming to the world that his big sister was kidnapping him, he was much more concerned with whether Stan needed a ticket.

I held his hand tightly. We were somewhere in the check-in hall at Terminal 3. It was loud and very confusing and we needed to find the right desk. People hurried by on all sides and I’d already lost track of where we’d come in.

“Stan does not need a ticket,” I repeated, for the eleventy-eighth time, and before Benjamin could get in his bonus question added, “And, no, he does not need a passport, either.”

“But we do,” said Benjamin. He sounded a little nervous. If Stan didn’t make the flight I knew Benjamin’s world would probably end.

“Yes,” I said. “We do.”

Just then, by coincidence I heard someone walk past talking about a flight to New York, and that started me panicking.

I took a long, slow breath. Benjamin is utterly wonderful, and I love him deeply, but he does have his moments, and I needed him. I absolutely needed him; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have abducted him. Not that I had. Not really.

“We do,” I explained, “because we are real, alive, and human, and Stan—exceptional though he is—is none of those things.”

Benjamin thought about this for a moment.

“He is real,” he said.

“Yes, you’re right,” I said. “Sorry. He is real. But he’s also a stuffed toy. He doesn’t need a passport.”

“Are you really sure?”

“I’m really sure. How is he, anyway?”

Benjamin held a brief conference with Stan. I guessed he was probably holding him by the wing, as usual, in the same way I was holding Benjamin’s hand. We must have looked pretty silly, the three of us. Me, then pint-sized Benjamin, then a scruffy black raven.

“He’s fine, but he misses everyone.”

By “everyone” Benjamin meant the menagerie of fluffy creatures and plastic superheroes in his bedroom.

“We only left them an hour ago.”

“I know, but that’s just how Stan is. He also says he’s missing Dad.”

I pulled Benjamin into a walk.

“Listen, Benjamin. You need to find the desk that says Virgin Atlantic Check-In. Maybe Stan can help. Don’t ravens have excellent eyesight?”

It was a bit of a gamble but it worked.

“Virgin Atlantic…” Benjamin repeated. “Come on. It’s right here! Stan, I beat you. Even though you have excellent eyesight.”

Benjamin started ahead quickly, and I hung on to him, tugging his hand to try to get him to remember how we walk. It’s something we worked out together a couple of years ago and he likes doing it, but I guess he was excited about going on a plane again, and his hand slipped out of mine as he trotted away.

“Benjamin!” I called, waiting for him to come back.

It was probably only a second or two but I freaked out and rushed after him, then kicked into a bag or something, and went sprawling full length on the floor.

Even in the noise of the airport I heard everyone around me go quiet as they watched and I knew I’d made a stunning spectacle of myself. I’d landed with my legs over the bag and my arms flung out in front of me.

“Am I invisible?” a man said angrily.

My sunglasses had shot off my face somewhere, and I heard him sigh.

“Why don’t you look where you’re going? My laptop’s in there.”

I got to my feet and managed to kick his bag again.

“For God’s sake,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered. “Sorry.”

I kept my head down as the man unzipped his bag, grumbling.

“Benjamin?” I said, but he was already back at my side.

“Are you okay, Laureth?” he asked, pushing something into my hands. “Here’s your glasses.”

I slipped them on quickly.

“I’m really sorry,” I said in the direction of the man, and held my hand out for Benjamin to take. “We’d better get a move on.”

Benjamin took my hand and this time walked with me properly, in our secret way.

“There’s a queue,” he said, coming to a stop. “It’s only short.”

The first gate, I said to myself. That’s what Dad would have called it. The first person I had to pass; the assistant at the check-in desk.

“It’s our go,” whispered Benjamin.

“Next customer, please!”

It was the woman at the desk.

I squeezed Benjamin’s hand, and bent down to whisper back.

“Wait here.”

“Why?”

“You know why,” I said, which gave me the task of walking the few paces up to the desk by myself.

I was glad it was summer and hot outside, because it looks less weird wearing sunglasses when the sun’s shining, even indoors, but after falling over some grumpy guy’s bag I didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself.

“Where are you traveling today?” asked the woman, before I was even at the desk.

I thought about my friend Harry at school. He’s amazing. He’d have tried making a couple of clicks to figure out where the desk was, but I guessed it probably wouldn’t have worked even for him; there was way too much background noise. Besides, there’s always the risk that someone thinks you’re pretending to be a dolphin. Not cool. Instead, I swept my hands up slowly but smoothly, and was very pleased that I’d got the distance almost exactly right. I mean, I banged my shins painfully into some kind of metal foot rail in front of the desk, but I did my best to keep a straight face and plonked our passports on the desk.

“Er, New York,” I said. “JFK. 9:55.”

The woman took our passports.

“Any bags to check in?”

“Er, no,” I said. “Just hand baggage.”

I turned and showed her my backpack, and waved a hand toward Benjamin, praying he’d stayed where I’d left him.

“Short break, is it? Doing anything nice?”

I told her the truth. What I hoped was the truth.

“Going to see our dad,” I said.

She paused.

“How old are you, Miss Peak?”

“Sixteen.”

“And that’s your brother, is it?”

I nodded.

“And he’s…?”

“Oh, he’s seven. It said on the website he can travel with me if he’s five. And he’s seven. And I’m sixteen, so I—I mean we—we thought that…”

“Oh, yes,” said the woman, “that’s fine, I was just asking. But does the bird have a passport?”

“I told you!” cried Benjamin from somewhere behind me.

“It’s okay, love,” said the woman. “I’m joking. He doesn’t need a passport.”

“He doesn’t need a passport,” I said. Then I felt stupid and shut up.

“Can I have a look at your bird?” the woman said, over my shoulder.

“I have to stay here,” said Benjamin.

“Why does he have to stay there?” said the woman to me.

Suddenly things were going in the wrong direction.

“You know,” I said, trying a smile. “Small boys. I mean, he doesn’t have to stay there, but—well—small boys.”

“Are you okay, Miss Peak?” the woman asked. Her voice was suddenly serious.

“Oh. Yes. You know. Anxious.”

“The flight’s not for an hour and a half. You’ve plenty of time.”

“Oh, no,” I said, feeling more desperate to get away than ever. “I mean about flying. And you know, there’s Benjamin.”

I heard her laugh.

“Twins,” she announced. “My boys are such a handful, and just his age. And there’s two of them, so count yourself lucky. Whenever we go on holiday it’s like we’ve declared war on the poor country.”

I laughed. I thought I sounded really nervous, but the woman didn’t seem to notice.

“Have a nice flight,” she said.

She put the passports back on the desk.

“Boarding is 8:55. Should be gate 35. For your own reassurance it would be sensible to watch for any changes.”

So then there was just the small issue of picking the passports back up off the counter. I made a gentle sweep across the desk and with relief found them straightaway.

“Thank you,” I said. “Benjamin. Hold my hand. You know how you get lost so easily.”

Benjamin came over and took my hand.

“I don’t!” he protested, and then, since he was being indignant about it, forgot to squeeze my hand to show me which way to go.

I froze, though what I really wanted to do was get him away from the nice woman’s desk before he could do any serious damage.

“Which way do we go?” I asked her.

“Departures is upstairs,” she said. “Escalators are over there.”

“Benjamin,” I said. “Benjamin? Shall we?”

But, bless him, by then he was already pulling me away from the desk, in the right direction. He’s remarkably good to me, mostly.

The first gate had been passed.

“Are we going to find Daddy now?” Benjamin asked, as we rode up the escalators to Departures.

“Yes,” I said. “We’re going to find Daddy now.”

 

Text copyright © 2013 by Marcus Sedgwick

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2014

    354

    Oh my god. And so are all the chapter titles. 3 five four. Idk if I should be telling you guys all this. Coi... 'chance' is a thrilling concept.

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  • Posted May 31, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The premise of a teenage girl deciding to fly to another country

    The premise of a teenage girl deciding to fly to another country to find her father instead of calling the police or talking to some other authority figure is questionable. Once you get past this part though, She Is Invisible is more than the story of a girl trying to reconnect with her father. It is about another way of viewing the world and the connections that people make with each other.




    I like how the protagonist has a disability. It's not often that you see a blind protagonist. I enjoyed seeing the different adaptations that Laureth and her brother Benjamin have made so that she can more easily navigate daily life while acting as if she can see the world around her, as well as the various reactions that people make when they learn that she is visually impaired. Better yet, Laureth takes her disability as it is instead of making it out to be a huge handicap, which make sense considering how she's lived with it her entire life. The only time she really wishes for sight is when she has strong feelings of wanting to protect her little brother. Benjamin is absolutely adorable, and I love his relationship with Laureth. They make a fantastic brother-sister team. Another character I adore is the tween boy who addresses himself as a mister and talks in 19th-century style.




    The story is told as if experienced through a bubble. We're in the story with Laureth navigating the streets of New York while reading pages from her father's notebook (with the help of her brother), but at the same time I felt disconnected from it all, creating the sense of possibility and disbelief at the same time. Part of this can be attributed to the incredulity of a teenage girl up and deciding to find her father herself instead of leaving it to authority figures—and taking her little brother with her. Another attribute is the magical realism, which totally made the story for me. In a story where coincidences play a large role, it makes sense that other magical happenings can occur, and it helps smooth over some instances where disbelief would overtake the magic of possibilities. I don't want to go into too much detail because of spoilers, but things like The Benjamin Effect and books seemingly falling from the sky are taken as they are without much inquiry.




    At the same time, so much disbelief is suspended throughout the story that it's hard to come back to the real world from that. While events playing out as they do help Laureth and Benjaming arrive at a much-needed happy conclusion with their family, so many incredulous things happen that it's hard to get grounded back in the real world when the bubble finally pops and disbelief takes over. So much time is spent in Laureth's mind in this novel, however, her desire to continue believing in  possibilities causes the balance to teeter between the two dimensions. And I'm not sure what to believe anymore except that events play out in a way that allows everyone involved to find the resolution they need. I only wish that one more coincidence played out, and Laureth had the opportunity to run into the other person she wants to see at the end of the story.




    She Is Not Invisible is a thought-provoking novel about the different kinds of people out there and how we influence each other, no matter how small a time we spend together. More importantly, it is about how we perceive the world and each other and how maintaining a narrow focus can lead us to form mistaken assumptions.

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  • Posted April 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating Characters, Amazing Tale About Being Different

    I had no idea how thought-provoking She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick would be or how much I would enjoy this YA read! I love the world building and descriptions of people and places. Never have I been able to mentally picture a scene through only sound, smell and feel, but thanks to Laureth, the narrator and main character, I am amazed at how clearly I could be “in the moment.” Laureth is a blind sixteen-year-old who sets out on a mission to find her missing father with her six-year-old brother and his stuffed raven, Stan in tow and so begins their journey from London to New York. A daunting feat for anyone, but Laureth possesses a confidence that she can do it with the help of Benjamin, who becomes her eyes when needed. Where is their author/father? Is it his obsession with coincidences that has made him go AWOL?

    Marcus Sedgwick has put together captivating characters, an international adventure and done more to shed light on the day to day challenges of what a person without sight must endure than any dry, non-fiction publication with his crisp writing and attention to the emotional detail. Being different doesn’t mean being insignificant, doesn’t mean having to go the extra mile to make people comfortable, we should all leave our comfort zones and never underestimate the power of determination. The real story here is about the journey Laureth, Benjamin and Stan take against all odds, all in the name of family and love. Mr. Sedgwick has created an eye-opening experience, a wondrous adventure and an amazingly entertaining read! I admit, I couldn’t have done what these two did!

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