Laureth Peake Is A Heroine for Our Times,
This review is from: She Is Not Invisible (Hardcover)
Laureth Peak is extraordinary. The first person narrator of this latest offering from the master of dark, suspenseful tales is a blind 16 year old whose lack of sight in perhaps the least extraordinary thing about her. She is brave, courageous, confident and takes us and her stoic, strong-minded seven year old brother Benjamin on an adventure across 3000 miles of ocean to New York City in search of her missing father.
Laureth is worried you see, her dad's precious writer's notebook has been found by a mysterious correspondent who emails her, a man who is willing to return it for a reward. The thing that really sets Laureth worrying is her dad is meant to be in Europe on a book tour. So, there and then, she decides, with her mother up north in Manchester at one of her sister's parties, she will take her brother Benjamin to New York to find him. Benjamin is a wonderful character, not only his sister's eyes, but with his fluffy raven Stan and his propensity to make electronic equipment give up the the ghost - the eponymous "Benjamin Effect" - they embark on a journey that is an unexpected as it is intriguing.
That a blind 16 year old can travel unaccompanied on an international flight to New York is as much news to Laureth as it is to us, but with a taxi ordered, her mother's credit card safely stowed away, Laureth and Benjamin set out on an adventure that will thrill and enthral. The attention to detail here is so impressive, Marcus Sedgwick spent quite a lot of time with students at New College Worcester, the only school in the country with all blind students. But this story's not about blindness, it's about how an ordinary, intelligent and resourceful girl goes about seeking her father and overcoming the many obstacles in her way. It is also, in true Sedgwickian fashion, a sojourn through the dark pseudo-science of human superstition too with nods to Edger Allan Poe and some of the gothic horrors of the 19th century.
In New York things are not at all what they seem and as Laureth and Benjamin close in on the whereabouts of their father the truth about his mysterious research into coincidences (co-inky-dinks as coined by a Benjamin mispronunciation) is revealed.
A marvellous read, a story with a living, beating heart, a tale that takes us well outside our normal experience, making the world of the blind as real as our own. Laureth is a wonderful heroine and like all good thought-leaders she makes us question our own lazy assumptions about disability. Sedgwick is such a versatile writer, so ever new, always challenging us, as about as unformulaic as they come.
I listened to the Audiobook version read brilliantly direct from Braille by Anna Canning. That she is blind and telling us the story through a Braille reading really added an additional dimension to the entire experience. She is gave an outstanding performance, utterly enthralling.
***** Five stars