To exist without being seen by anyone…somehow Ellen Homes has managed to do just that. Invisible Ellen is a story that’s reminiscent of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, not that Ellen can taste people’s emotions, as Rose is able to do. But Ellen has the ability to simply disappear, much like Rose’s brother, Joseph. Except Ellen has not really disappeared, she’s just learned to make herself as inconspicuous as possible.
Being invisible certainly has its privileges. No one at work, where she cleans a store on third shift, notices her. Even people on the bus she rides to and from work don’t notice her, so much so that she’s almost sat on at one point. Ellen doesn’t mind because not being seen gives her a chance to observe people around her. She spies on her neighbors and co-workers and records everything she sees in a journal.
The day Ellen is finally seen changes her perspective on life. Generally apathetic, she gets involved when she sees someone in danger. The old Ellen would have merely noted the occurrence in her journal and continued on her way. But this person actually saw her and that is the beginning of a new Ellen.
I love how Shattuck pulls back Ellen’s layers one at a time. The way she allows her to discover emotions is moving, as is discovering Ellen’s back story and how she came to be invisible. I also love the use of Temerity and Justice as character names. Both characters live up to their names and the introduction of Temerity into Ellen’s live indeed gives her the boldness and audacity she’d been lacking prior to their meeting. I loved Ellen’s story enough to stay up late at night to get through it. I’m betting you will too.
Published: May 2014
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