Three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick's 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.
Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbersa 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.
This title has Common Core connections.
Praise for She Is Not Invisible:
“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.” Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“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. . . . Totally absorbing.” Gill Perry, Waterstones.com
Novels by Marcus Sedgwick:
Saint Death: A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.
Blood Red Snow White: A gripping, romantic adventure novel based on the true story of Arthur Ransome's experiences with love and betrayal in war-torn Russia.
The Ghosts of Heaven: A Printz Honor Book! Timeless, beautiful, and haunting, spirals connect four episodes, from prehistory through the far future.
She Is Not Invisible: When her father goes missing, a blind girl talented in identifying patterns and her brother are thrust into a mystery.
Midwinterblood: A Printz Medal Winner! Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined.
White Crow: A scary, thought provoking novel about secrets that are better left buried.
Revolver: A Printz Honor Book! A taut frontier survivor story, set at the time of the Alaska gold rush.
Graphic novel by Marcus Sedgwick, art by Thomas Taylor:
Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter: A rip-roaring romp full of hairy horrors, villainous villains, and introducing the world’s toughest monster hunterScarlett Hart!
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
She Is Not Invisible
By Marcus Sedgwick
Roaring Brook PressCopyright © 2013 Marcus Sedgwick
All rights reserved.
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.
"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.
"How old are you, Miss Peak?"
"And that's your brother, is it?"
"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."CHAPTER 2
THE BLACK BOOK
Thing: a word that Mr. Woodell, my English teacher, tells me I use way too much. But sometimes there is no better word to use than thing.
For example, there are a couple of vital things to know when abducting your little brother, even if you're not really: thing one, it's much simpler if he doesn't know you're abducting him, and thing two, it makes the guilt easier to bear if you have a really good reason why you're abducting him.
I passed both of these with flying colors.
On thing one, Benjamin was perfect. Old enough to be useful, young enough not to know that you don't just leave your house early on a Saturday morning to fly to America with your big sister.
"Isn't Mummy coming?" he'd asked, when I'd woken him.
"Mummy's going to Auntie Sarah's today, don't you remember?"
It was only seven o'clock, and on a Saturday morning at that. Mum had already left, to beat the worst of the traffic to Manchester, she said, leaving me with strict instructions about when to get Benjamin up, what to get him to eat and so on, as if I didn't do it a lot anyway. When I'm home at weekends and in the holidays I often look after Benjamin because Mum's shifts can be dead awkward. So she's not there a lot and Dad — well, Dad's often away these days. With the fairies, Mum says.
As for thing two, that had only begun the evening before, when I'd checked Dad's email for him. Dad pays me twenty pounds a month to check his fan mail and other random communications that come via his website. I'd started doing it for him when he was away on trips, but pretty soon he asked me to check it all the time, since I was doing it so well and since it made him less stressed not to have to read every single one.
I tell Dad if there's anything important that he needs to know, and otherwise I send back one of the standard replies that he has saved in a folder on the desktop, always at hand, because ninety percent of the emails fall into one of three categories.
There's the reply for "I am an aspiring writer and I would like you to read what I've written." There's the reply for "I read your book and I loved it; please will you write more." And there's the reply for "I have a question for you: Where do you get your ideas from?"
Of course, the questions are always asked a bit differently, but they're more or less the same.
When Dad first told me about the prewritten replies, I was a bit shocked. I told him it was ungrateful of him — after all, he wouldn't have a job without his readers, the people who actually buy his books. He was silent for a while and then he said, "Yes, Laureth. You're right."
He sighed. "Believe me, it means everything to get letters like these. But I'm just so busy at the moment ..."
I still wasn't convinced it was the right thing to do, but the idea of some extra pocket money was too much to resist; I've always got a list as long as my arm of audiobooks that I want, so I agreed.
Oh, and there's a fourth category of emails, which go like this: "I read your book and it sucked. I mean it really sucked. You're a terrible writer." Dad's less keen on those.
We don't have a prewritten reply for this category, because Dad says we don't need to reply to people who aren't polite. It makes me angry when I open an email like that. I think Dad's books are really good. Well, most of them. He works so hard on them, and I can't believe how easy people find it to be mean. It doesn't happen that often but the first time I got one it made me want to send a totally nasty message back, but then Dad asked me why I'd want to. What would it achieve? He laughed, an empty sort of laugh, and warned me never to get involved with those sorts of people. He has a friend, another writer, who once replied with a torrent of abuse to an email criticizing her novel. She called the person who'd sent it "an illiterate monkey with nuts for brains," only she didn't say nuts. It was all over the Internet the following week and his friend got into no end of trouble for it. She doesn't get asked to speak at book festivals anymore, for one thing.
Anyway, I was plugging away through the emails as usual, and cutting and pasting Dad's replies, adding a little personal touch on the end here and there if I thought it was a particularly nice email, because I know just what Dad would say, and then I came across one that was different. Very different.
I had VoiceOver turned way up, to almost top speed, so when I heard the subject of the email the first time, I didn't quite catch it.
I fumbled around with the settings on the Mac to slow its speech rate down and then played the subject line again.
The Black Book.
That grabbed me at once, because the Black Book is what Dad calls his notebook. He has lots of notebooks, hardback notebooks, always the same, and they're all called the Black Book. He calls them that because they're white, apparently, and apparently that's funny, but I don't really see why.
As I listened to the message, my skin went cold.
The email came from someone called Michael Walker, and he said that he'd found Dad's notebook and had seen the email address inside the cover and wanted to claim the reward that was offered.
The email finished like this:
I note that the value of the reward is £50 and so I think I must be right in saying that you're British. I'd like to enquire what the dollar equivalent would be, should I return your book to you.
Yours, Mr. Michael Walker
What made my skin go cold was the word dollar. That probably meant America, I knew. Which was odd, to say the least, because Dad was supposed to be in Europe. In Switzerland.
Something wasn't right. Dad's not the most normal of people you could ever meet, that's true. But even for him, this was unlikely behavior.
I went and found Mum. She was in her bedroom, packing to go to Aunt Sarah's, I guessed.
"Mum," I said, "is there anywhere in Europe that uses dollars?"
"Laureth, you're sixteen. You can do your geography assignments by yourself now."
"Mum, it's the summer holidays," I said. "It's not schoolwork. I just want to know which countries use dollars."
"Why don't you look it up? Google it? You need to be more independent."
That would have been enough to drive me crazy on any other day. On any other day I'd have been cross because on the one hand, Mum won't let me do anything by myself, and on the other, she's always telling me I have to learn to look after myself better because no one else is going to. The fact that she was going to Auntie Sarah's, without us, overnight was something of a miracle in itself, and clearly showed the mood she was in.
"Never mind," I said.
Then, trying to sound as casual as I could, I added, "Listen. Where's Dad?"
"Austria. Switzerland. Somewhere like that."
"When did you last hear from him?"
I hadn't heard from him myself in days. Which was most odd. Usually he's pretty good at keeping in touch, with texts at least.
"Laureth, I don't have time for this."
She sighed again. I waited.
"About a week ago. Maybe longer. Why?"
"Because he's had an email. Someone's found his notebook. In America."
Mum didn't say anything, but she stopped moving around for a moment. Then she went on packing.
"I think something's happened to him," I said. Mum didn't answer.
"Mum, I said —"
"I heard you. Look, it's probably someone playing a prank, that's all."
Then she yelled at me.
"Laureth! Just leave it, will you?"
She followed that by going silent on me. I stomped back to the little spare room Dad uses as an office, and after a while I began to think that, well, maybe she had a point. Maybe it was this month's loony email. Dad has a private competition every month for the craziest message, something I'd been happily judging since I'd taken over checking the account.
Excerpted from She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick. Copyright © 2013 Marcus Sedgwick. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The First Gate,
The Black Book,
You Never Know,
The Guard Dogs,
The First Page,
The Stray Book,
The Third Gate,
The Right Seat,
The Plane Trip,
The Fizzy Tist,
The Blind Hero,
Who Knows What?,
The Third Page,
One Blind Girl,
One Money Size,
One Weird Dude,
Two Crazy Guys,
The Black King,
The Empty Room,
The Dying Poet,
The Poet's Home,
The Pious Poem,
And Third Long,
The Human Mind,
The Fatal Idea,
Two Dried Mice,
The Final Clue,
God Plays Dice,
The Wrong Idea,
The Noisy City,
One Giant Leap,
Boy Meets Girl,
Also by Marcus Sedgwick,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Overall, She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick was a great book. It was about a girl named Laureth who took her little brother Benjamin to New York from London. She was blind any many things happened to her on her journey. Her dad was mugged, she was robbed and she was almost killed all in the same year. She met a guy who liked her a lot until he found out she was blind. She went through so much adversity. She learned by the end of the book to not give up and to keep pushing yourself. I would rate this book a 6 or 7 out of 10. You should definitely read this book if you want to become more motivated. It is a very interesting book.
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.
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.
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!