When I saw this book on the shelf at my library, I recognized it (as people deeply involved in book culture are wont to do). I met David Levithan at YALLFest last year, and he was super nice and down to earth. At that time, I hadn’t read any of his books and was only purchasing one of them (Every Day- one of my favorites of all time). I had a feeling that anything written by him would be amazing, but this book only lived up to and exceeded that expectation!
Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.
I love this book so much!! When you read a lot of books, you come to expect a lot, especially from a book about something as seemingly simple as invisibility. But the farther into the book you read, the more you discover that there is an entire world hidden behind the seeming simplicity of invisibility, and Elizabeth holds the key. I finished this book in mere hours, because once I started, it was impossible to walk away. The writing was beautiful and haunting, but readable, and I thought Levithan’s writing was extraordinarily empathetic with an invisible boy. It’s hard to understand what I mean without reading it- how can someone know what it feels like to never have been seen?- but he pulls it off.
The magical world behind Stephen’s invisibility curse is complex and thought provoking. The curse, itself, is also so. Many people wish to be invisible, it is widely regarded as something cool, you only have to look at Harry Potter to see what people idolize. Power, invisibility, and eternal life. But this gives a whole new spin on the idea of not being seen- for someone like Stephen who has been invisible since birth, it is not a blessing. The whole issue was delicately handled, and I like that.
The romance was slow and sweet, but passionate, and the ending was heartbreaking. I think it was actually the best part, even though it was sad in a certain way. I highly, highly recommend this book for most anyone, especially for fans of David Levithan or Andrea Cremer (his co-author), YA fans, or those who like a healthy dose of magical realism. (and really, who doesn’t?)
Have a great day, everyone!