Authors: Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin imprint)
Stephen is used to invisibility. He was born that way. Invisible. Cursed. Elizabeth sometimes wishes for invisibility. When you're invisible, no one can hurt you. So when her mother decides to move the family to New York City, Elizabeth is thrilled. It's easy to blend in there. Then Stephen and Elizabeth meet. To Stephen's amazement, she can see him. And to Elizabeth's amazement, she wants him to be able to see her. All of her. But as the two become closer, an invisible world gets in their way-a world of grudges and misfortunes, spells and curses. And once they're thrust into this world, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how deep they're going to go-because the answer could mean the difference between love and death.
Invisibility is a haunting, mysterious, and complex tale of two very different and very complicated young voices. One wants to be seen, one wants to hide, and when the two meet an invisible world is revealed and the truth threatens them both. Amid the curses, the spells, the danger, and the unflinching truth is the simple act of seeing, of being seen, and the heart-wrenching loneliness of invisibility.
Both narrators stood out in different ways, told different sides of the same story. Stephen's voice was elusive, hesitant, complex, all evident of a life of being invisible, of little to no contact with others. How are you supposed to communicate with the world when the world doesn't know you're there? His is the voice of someone who sees the world differently, who sees the world from a different angle, perhaps as something wondrous but also a kind of prison. As wide and wonderful as the world is, he inhabits it without ever being seen wandering along its paths.
Elizabeth's voice, by contrast, is slightly more open. She's caring, expressive, creative. The move to New York City means she can start over, start a happier life than the one she left. She wants to create a new version of herself for the world to see. She knows the world can see her, but it sure would be interesting to not be seen. Hers is a voice that's sweet and happy but has been through heartache. Above all else she's outrageously protective of those she cares about, about her brother Laurie, her mother, and, after she meets him, Stephen. As wide and wonderful as the world is, there must be a place for her, either to be seen or to be invisible.
At the start, the book is reminiscent of a daydream. Stephen's sudden encounter with someone who can see him, who can finally see him, and all the new sensations that stem from it. Elizabeth is thrilled to meet someone new, someone nice, someone she might really care about. The connection between the two of them is there, weaving them together until they share pieces of themselves. It's the pure enjoyment of finding someone who listens, who sees, who cares, but then reality takes hold. Then the truth comes out, and the search into the darkness begins.
What is it like to truly be invisible? What is it like to go through like with no one ever laying a single eye upon you? The loneliness would be staggering, a sorrowful and bitter taste. But what if one day, one day after a lifetime of never being seen, someone's eyes land on you? What if their voice reaches out to you? What would happen next?
I find this to be an exploration of what it is to see, of what it is to be seen and to be invisible, of what the world sees when they look at us and of what we want the world to see. It's an exploration of connections, of desires and wishes, of the dark truth that circles without anyone knowing, and of the hope that, one day, someone will see the real you that you've been waiting to show the world for the longest time.
(I acquired an advance copy of this title at ALA Midwinter.)