I’d been anxiously waiting for the debut of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue since the publishing deal was announced. Something about the title, the story, and the author’s connection with it had me mesmerized. When the beautiful book arrived at my door, I opened it and barely put it down. (This review is much overdue.)
The storytelling isn’t straightforward, and we are pulled from the past to the present and back again almost every chapter, flitting from memory to the present. That can be overwhelming in some novels, but not this one. Instead, it’s almost like reading two stories at once, knowing they’re connected, and waiting for the revelations to unfold. It’s a constant tease, and it pulls you through the book, flipping pages, anxious to know more.
Addie LaRue is a strong, independent woman from a time when girls only had one thing to look forward to – leaving home and starting a family of their own. She finds a way out of the life everyone expects from her, but at what cost? Her story is one of stubborn determination, heartache, pain, loss, and misery.
It could have been a depressing book to read, except for the main character’s perseverance and her belief (proven true throughout the book) that there is always something new to explore, some new beauty or marvel, that humanity will always provide her with some new wonder to discover.
That outlook is the true soul of the novel. It’s what kept me turning pages. It reminded me of all the beauty in this world, and all the memorable moments I’ve already experienced. As Addie sits atop the steps to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France, I was compelled to go through my photographs from my own visit, to marvel at the beauty of it, and of the timelessness of cities around the world.
For while everything changes, there are still some things that feel eternal, moments shared by millions, experienced at different times throughout the centuries. And while some things, like dawn and dusk happen every day, they can be magical if you take the time to truly savor them. Every heartbeat may bring us closer to death, but it also gives us a chance to see and do something new.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue reminds us that we can walk every street of our city and still discover something new. She reminded me of all the beauty around me. Her story opened my eyes and my heart.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue jacket art: Will Stachle.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue interior illustrations: Jennifer Hanover.