Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Invisible Ellen by Shari Shattuck ~ Book Review

Ellen has spent her whole life trying to be invisible.  Scarred both emotionally and physically since childhood she is now a very overweight, insecure and awkward adult living a very self-secluded life.  Though she tries to keep herself from being noticed she is a great observer of people and records what she observes in those around her in journals.  Having buried her emotions long ago, her writings involve no feelings, emotion or judgement but are simply a recording of what she has observed.  But one day as Ellen catches her usual bus to her night shift job cleaning Costco, Ellen comes across a blind girl named Temerity and her whole life changes.  Temerity boards Ellen's bus and due to her exuberant personality, Ellen feels compelled to get off at her stop and follow her.  But then she finds herself observing Temerity being mugged and before she realizes what she is doing Ellen steps in to help her, which is totally out of character for Ellen.  Temerity and her brother immediately and unconditionally befriend Ellen and step by step Ellen finds herself being swept along in Temerity's whirlwind way of helping others out.  Ellen soon discovers herself not quite so invisible anymore and actually having someone she can call her friend for the first time in her life. And through that acceptance Ellen starts to see that she does have some things to offer if she would dare to step out of her invisibility.  

This story turned out to be an enjoyable surprise!  One of the components on my Reading Challenge 2015 was to read a book written by an author with the same initials as me.  Well, I couldn't think of any off the top of my head and after some extensive searching I found this site that listed a bazillion authors alphabetically.  And after scrolling through and clicking on what seemed like a million books written by authors with the initials SS, I found this one that seemed like something I might possibly get into.   

The story grabbed me right away.  The concept of a friendship between a person who was emotionally handicapped and trying to hide and a person who was physically handicapped with a exuberant personality and how they connected was fun.  I was invested in the main characters and cared what happened to Ellen.  My heart broke for her as her story was revealed and cheered her on as she started to break out of the walls and shells she had placed around heart in order to protect herself.  I cried and I laughed throughout the book.  The way that Temerity seemed to push Ellen out of her comfort zones, always without knowing that that is what she was doing, led to some pretty humorous reactions and situations.  There is a natural humor in the story that I really enjoyed.  While the situations were a little crazy they lent a craziness and silliness that was refreshing in the midst of the issues that the book was reflecting on.  There was a few mentions of marijuana used for recreational purposes as a positive thing but they were for the most part just mentions and not really dwelt upon. 

A couple quotes that really stood out to me:

"She'd spent her whole life living day to day, hoping for nothing more than to get through each one unnoticed and unscathed.
...It was so much easier to expect nothing and be all right than to expect something and be disappointed."  pg 232

That one really got me thinking how many people I come across who are feeling this way and we tend to just walk right by them not even noticing them or thinking they are unfriendly or unapproachable or we judge them.  

and then:

"Besides, I always find that focusing on helping other people makes my problems much more insignificant, don't you?"    pg. 245

Sorta sums up the book in a lovely way as Temerity shows Ellen just that.

I gave this uplifting read a  9.5/10

Reading Challenge 2015 Goals Met:  A book by an author with your same initials, A book by a female author, a funny book, a book by an author I've never read before, a book that made me cry 


Barbara H. said...

This sounds really interesting! I clicked over to the author's site and found a few with my initials, but so far no one whose books looked inviting to me. I've been doing a couple of different challenges but may look into this one next year.

Anonymous said...

You may already know this but just in case you do not there is a sequel to this book.

Faith said...

This looks like a book I would enjoy!! I'm going to see if our library has it!!

Susanne said...

I didn't know there was a sequel. Going to look it up now!!

Karen said...

This sounds really good, and I like the quotes that you included. I am starting a new section of my TBR list -- Susanne's suggestions:)