A Photographic Tour of She Is Not Invisible + giveaway

April 14, 2014 2014, giveaway, guest post, marcus sedgwick, realistic fiction, Wendy 69

she is not invisible

Traveling a long distance can be confusing and stressful. Now imagine you’re a teenager trying to find someone in a strange city, with only your young brother to help you. Think that’s hard? Now imagine that you are blind.

That’s the idea behind She is Not Invisible, the new book from the brilliant Marcus Sedgwick. He’s one of my favorite authors, and one whose books I wish I could buy for everyone because each one takes me to a place I’ve never been before. I’ve certainly never read a book from the POV of a blind person before.While it’s a marked departure from his usual dark, gothic style, it’s still feels like a Sedgwick novel because of its careful puzzle-piece plotting, fascinating characters, and sheer ingenuity. I also enjoyed seeing the author’s thoughtful, quirky side in the narrative voice–he’s a humorous, pleasant interview, and upon reading any of his guest posts, you get the sense that sitting across from him for tea would be one of the liveliest conversational afternoons you’d ever had. I felt the same way inside Laureth’s head.

Because I found the idea of a blind girl navigating unfamiliar places so intriguing, I asked Marcus if he would show us the places in New York that inspired scenes and settings in the book for our stop on the She is Not Invisible Blog Tour. I enjoyed seeing the world Laureth is thrust into on her quest to find her father, and I hope you will, too.

~ Wendy

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A Photographic Tour of  She is Not Invisible
by Marcus Sedgwick

The hero of the book is Laureth, a 16 year old girl who’s been blind from birth. She never sees the world I ‘depict’ in the novel, so here, somewhat ironically therefore, is a photographic tour of the places she goes, with the help of Benjamin, her little brother.

The places Laureth goes are fairly mundane ones, airports, hotels, dirty streets. So these are not the most extraordinary photos you’re about to see; but as you look at them, try to imagine how it would be to be in these places without your sight.

Take this airport; the novel opens at London’s Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3:

london heathrow

Airports must be some of the busiest and most complex spaces we visit: the photo above captures a rare quiet moment, but even so, negotiating it blind must seem an immense challenge. I’ll be mentioning my friends from New College, Worcester, England, more than once in this piece – this school for the blind devotes many hours per week to teaching skills to help their students negotiate the world outside the school; public transport is a special area. But once the students start to cope with local busses and trains, their world starts to open up enormously. Imagine how valuable this independence is to them.

In order to cope with unfamiliar spaces, Laureth takes her kid brother, Benjamin, along with her. After a flight of seven hours or so, they arrive at the immigration hall of JFK Airport in New York. Now I have to say that making your way through places like this after a long flight is always a bit of a trial. If you’re unlucky and arrive at the wrong time, you can be in one of these queues for an hour, or more.

jfk airport

From here, Laureth and Benjamin take a taxi to a rendezvous in Queens, at the library.

They come here to meet Michael Walker, who’s found Laureth’s missing father’s notebook. She’s hoping clues in the book might help her find him, and she’s right, they find out the name of the hotel he’s staying in, and head into Manhattan to find it.

ace hotel new york

The Black King in the book is based on the times I’ve stayed here: the Ace Hotel, NYC.

This is the lobby/bar area. By day it’s full of trendy hipsters on their MacBooks, by night, it turns into noisy and raucous night club. When Laureth and Benjamin arrive she’s overwhelmed by the sound of the place at first, but at least the aircon is cool after the fierce summer heat outside. I’ve stayed at the ace many times, I like it but it makes me laugh a bit too, it takes itself very seriously at times and seems to work hard at proving to itself how cool it is.

ace hotel sign

The corridors upstairs are film-noir dark; at any moment you expect Sam Spade to swing round a corner looking for a dame or a fresh smoke. There are big stenciled instructions everywhere, but of course, neither the dark or the instructions are of any interest to Laureth.

You might sometimes have seen Braille instructions in public spaces, in train toilets, for example, or on museum displays. I’d often wondered how useful they were to blind people, so I asked the students at New College about these signs, only to discover that most of them weren’t even aware they existed. Unless you runs your hands over the entire wall of a new space you enter, you won’t even know they’re there.


From the hotel, Laureth and Benjamin head back out into the city, following a clue that leads the to the Bronx, to The Edgar Allan Poe cottage, now a museum.

This is an amazing place: it’s where Poe spend the last few years of his life, and is the last remaining part of old Fordham village. Now a part of The Bronx, the cottage sits in a small park a short way from its original location, and makes an amazing contrast with the modern city around it.

third and long bar new york

Later, following ever more desperate hunches, the pair head south again into the city and Laureth wanders into this bar, Third and Long, now closed, I think. This is the old view from Google Streetview. If you look carefully you can see the Empire State Building on the horizon, once again, a landmark for most travellers to the city but not relevant to Laureth.

Laureth has a rough time in the bar, but things start to finally fall into place for her when they make a late rendezvous with Michael Walker again.

They meet on the street, back out in Queens, here:

queens street view

This is another Streetview image.

It’s here that Laureth learns some vital things about her Dad, and about Michael, and here too that Michael learns a little of what Laureth’s life is life. If you’ve wondered ever how blind people make sense of the places they visit, what the world means to them, here’s a short extract from the book as Laureth explains some things to him.

I stepped over to Michael, and put my hands over his eyes.

‘Like this,’ I said. ‘Just listen. What do you hear?’

‘The traffic,’ he said.

‘Yes. There’s the traffic, but you can hear sounds in it, can’t you? There’s that big truck rumbling down there, and someone’s impatient with someone over there, a little honk on the horn. And there’s a loose manhole right near us. And there’s more sirens in the distance, though the one for our man has stopped now. And there’s a helicopter overhead, and a plane even higher than that. There’s a guy selling bottles of water for a dollar down the street, and someone’s just walked by with a dog, a small dog. And I haven’t even started on the smells yet.’

I felt his cheeks lift into a smile under my hands.

‘And now we really had better go,’ I said.

‘Laureth!’ he said. ‘Email me? Please?’

I smiled.

‘I will!’

I couldn’t have begun to write this book without the incredible generous honest and openness of the students I spoke to at New College. This glimpse of a scene above is taken from a conversation I had with my friend Jasmine one day as she explained things to me in just the same way. So if I managed to convey the sense of what it’s like to be blind at all, it’s down to Jasmine and the other at New College. I thank them enormously for their help; it’s their book.

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Win a copy of She is Not Invisible!

Thanks to our friends at Macmillan Teen, we have a shiny new hardcover copy of the book to give away. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below.

Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. Please see entry form for complete details.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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she is not invisible

Our thanks to Marcus Sedgwick for visiting with us again! Be sure to follow along the rest of the blog tour for interviews, guest posts, and more. You may also see him on his U.S. tour this spring, or find him online  on his website or Twitter.

And if you’re curious about the book, definitely check out the first 18 pages of She is Not Invisible as well!


An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this feature. Photographs appear courtesy of the author.

Wendy signature teal





69 Responses to “A Photographic Tour of She Is Not Invisible + giveaway”

  1. Emma

    The only place I have been to on this list is the London Heathrow Airport, for when I was coming back from London, in which I bought some really great books at Harrod’s.

  2. Harlee James

    So very excited to read this book! I’m already so intrigued by the main character. This is the first I’ve heard of this author but after reading the excerpt, I’m sure I’ll be checking out his other works!

    I am a lover of all things New York. So interested in seeing how the city is depicted through the point of view of someone without sight.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. elizabeth gray

    The photos are gorgeous, i’ve never seen a walkthru like this. I’d love to see more of them, I’ve never found those book videos interesting but I hope i see these more frequently. I’ll definitely add this to my to-read.

  4. Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl

    Wow! The photos are beautiful, and I’d love to visit the Edgar Allan Poe cottage museum someday. That first line of the novel pulls me in right away – “One final time I told myself I wasn’t abducting my little brother.” I’ve never read a book from a blind character’s perspective, at least none that I can think of, and I’m looking forward to reading this one. It’s so cool to see the photos! :D
    Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl recently posted…Omni by Andrea Murray ~ Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway!

  5. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Wow. Just… wow. This is not the sort of book I would normally pick up (contemporary YA as opposed to YA fantasy or any of the adult genres I read.) And after reading this, I’m beginning to wonder what I’m missing. One of the things I love about fantasy is encountering different worlds. Well, here’s a “world” I haven’t encountered, right here in our world. Sure, I’ve been to cities, and even spent my first six years in greater NYC and my young adulthood just outside DC. But to experience NYC and life in general through the senses of a blind person — that’s a world I’ve never explored. What impresses me most is that there is no hint of pity or condescension in the author’s voice, whether he’s talking about Laureth or writing in her voice. This is going on my TBR list — very high on my TBR list.
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…When We Met, by Susan Mallery (early review)

  6. Kate I.

    The only book I’ve recently read featuring a blind protagonist is THE TRAVEL AUCTION, wherein the female lead joined a sighted fellow (whom she’d only just met) on a 3-month tour through the South America. Laureth’s intriguing quest is much different, but she’s sure to face many of the same obstacles. I’d love to learn what transpires as she and her brother search for their dad. Regarding the sites described here by the author, I arrived at JFK on my first trip from the west coast to NYC. As I was collected at the airport by a long-time resident of that wonderful city, I had only to gawk at the points of interest while escorted along the streets or chauffeured about. I’ll be sure to add Poe’s cottage to my itinerary when next in the vicinity (I did visit another former residence of Poe’s, which is now a national historic site, on North 7th in Philly).

  7. Darith L.

    This is definitely an intriguing novel! It’s really brave for a girl who’s visibly handicapped to travel with only her brother’s help. I really want to read this book to see how the author delivers the novel. Hopefully, it’s to my liking.

  8. Rachel

    This sounds amazing! I can’t imagine navigating through Heathrow or JFK while blind! It can be extremely confusing when you can see! I didn’t think about the Braille signs in public places going under the radar for the blind, but when you think about it who would swipe their hand over every surface? That’s a bummer. Maybe sound indicators would work better. I haven’t been interested in many YA stories lately but I would like to read this one. Hopefully there’s a romance? I’ll have to investigate. Wonderful post Marcus and Wendy! Thanks for the giveaway! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Cover Fever: #8. Divergent by Veronica Roth

  9. Natalie

    I’m really intrigued by the fact that the MC is blind. I cannot even try to guess what her POV will be like. Kudos to the author for tackling a major undertaking like that.

    Have I been to New York? I WISH! That place seem o-mazing, but sadly, no New York for me. XD I love the pictures though, brilliant idea!

    Thank you for the giveaway!!

  10. Emily

    I’ve never read a book from the POV of someone blind, although I actually tried to write my own story with a blind main character once. The entire premise of this book seems fascinating and I would love to read it. The cover art is also quite pretty. :)
    Emily recently posted…Don’t Be Hasty: A Fanfiction Review

  11. Larissa

    This book just seems lovely and I’m sure it’ll be a whirlwind of emotions. The fact that it’s narrated by somebody who is blind is definitely different, and it’s wonderful to see some diversity in YA. It must be crazy and scary to experience this whole new place without being able to witness. Seriously, even going to Italy was nerve wracking and I could see.

    I also loved the photo tour, it’s clear the author has put thought into the setting of the story and what it means to the character. It’s also cool how knowledgable he is about New York (:

    Thanks for the giveaway! (: I’ve never read anything by Marcus and this book seems like the perfect place to start. I can already tell I’ll adore his writing, the little quote and the samples pages were wonderful <33
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

  12. Rose D.

    I think it’ll be very interesting reading about the world as it would be to someone with no sight. The descriptions in books are so important for setting and pacing, how will it work without the visual aspect?

    • Wendy Darling

      I think you’ll find that it’s still a very descriptive book, Rose, and one that does give you a great sense of time and place despite the lack of visual cues. I was pretty impressed by how he managed it, and like all his books, he clearly thought about this and planned it out very carefully.

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s crazy to think of Laureth’s journey in this book. I’m so glad you’ve added it to your wishlist, Jeann! I like this author’s writing so much.

    • Wendy Darling

      Exactly! I think it’s so helpful to be able to see what an author was picturing in his mind. The hotel actually looks a lot like I imagined it in the book.

  13. Meredith

    This sounds like an amazing read. It would be so difficult to properly capture the life of someone who is blind as so much today is related to sight. I’d never really stopped to think about it, but especially traveling about an airport, life must be such a challenge.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yes, I was really impressed by how the author made you understand (as much as possible) what it was like to do all this fantastical stuff as a blind person. It doesn’t surprise me that he did this kind of research for the book.

  14. Michelle

    This book sounds absolutely intriguing. I’ve never read a book coming from a blind person’s POV either, so this will definitely be something new.

    I just read the except and I’m already captivated and feel like I need this ASAP! It’s the type of book you’d drink with a cup of tea by your side. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m glad the excerpt hooked you! It’s such a good start to the book. And it is indeed a perfect book to read with tea…and maybe some buttered crumpets, too. :)

  15. Pili

    This books sounds so very intriguing! I’m used to travelling through airports of different countries, and Heathrow is a bit of a nightmare! (I got stuck there 5 days during a snow blizzard). I have to say I cannot imagine dealing with investiagating and travelling through different cities and countries being a blind person with a young kid to help you and take care of each other!
    Pili recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: ARC Review of Taste of Darkness by Maria V Snyder!!

    • Wendy Darling

      I haven’t been to Heathrow in years, but I spent a LOT of time there in high school/college when I did a summer programme overseas. GOOD LORD, 5 days there, though! It’s like you were your own Tom Hanks movie, hah. Whatever did you do during all that time? Were things open 24 hours? You weren’t traveling by yourself, were you? What a nightmare it must have been.

      • Pili

        I was indeed travelling on my own, coming from visiting the bf in India. Luckily one of his friends was visiting her family in Reading, so they let me use their shower and got me into a B&B while we looked for flights that would depart…
        Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #38!!

    • Wendy Darling

      III know. How would you even know where to put your hands? Someone’s got to invent some sort of signal/device that lets blind people know about them, otherwise they seem kind of useless.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh no, did you leave one before? :( I’m sorry, Carina. We’ve had weird commenting issues for a few days now, actually, but I hope it’s over with now.

      Aren’t the photographs great? I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book!

      • Carina Olsen

        See, I wrote a comment first, then clicked submit comment. The page updated, but no comment showed :( (Wrote the new one at the same time, hih. <3) Ohh yes. The pictures looks awesome :) I will be reading the book soon. Hopefully :) Really hope that I will enjoy it.
        Carina Olsen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #131

  16. Rachel Spring

    The only place that I’ve been to from the photos was London Heathrow, but that was only for about 30 minutes to an hour and it was about 10 years ago, so I barely rememember it. I love these types of photo journeys through a book, and I am so excited to revisit it while I actually read the book. I am bookmarking this page right now! Thanks for an excellent post and a great giveaway :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I do the exact same thing when I see these photo posts–bookmark them to come back to again when I’ve read the book! I’m glad we could help with that. I think you’ll find it useful once you see what Laureth has to go through on her journey. I didn’t even talk all that much about the fact that she has to find her missing father in New York–that’s a seemingly insurmountable task already even if you were sighted.

      Thanks for your lovely feedback, Rachel. :)

  17. Courtney

    After an overnight flight from Spain, I had to go through customs at JFK…long lines and very frustrating! Is there ever a right time to fly into JFK?

  18. fishgirl182

    I have not read any of this author’s books but now I want to. I have a terrible sense of direction and I think that, even with sight, places like JFK and Heathrow are scary. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do it blind. And I have always wondered about the Braille in museums and such as I never thought they might be particularly useful unless you already knew they were there. I do appreciate the stop lights that chirp when you can cross the street. I think that might be useful if I were blind.

    Cool tour post. Another to add to my to read list. :)
    fishgirl182 recently posted…Pasadena Teen Book Festival Spotlight on Sarah Skilton

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m horrible with directions, too! Why IS that? It’s such a cliche, but I’m forever getting mixed up when I try to explain where things are in relation to other things, and yet Mr. Darling could walk you through things step by step. There’s actually a scientific basis for this, though–women really are wired differently, and men are better at visual spatial relations. Which just makes it all the more awesome that Laureth is able to navigate all this in the book!

      And yeah, I’ve wondered about those Braille signs, too. I’m glad he thought to address that in the post.

  19. Vivien

    Another beautiful photographic tour!! I absolutely need to visit the Edgar Allen Poe museum. It looks absolutely wonderful!! I have only read Midwinterblood and that was recently. I did absolutely fall in love with his writing style, so I knew that I would need to get my hands on his next novel. This sounds like such a unique concept and I am so very eager to see how it turns out. The reviewers I trust have so far really just loved this book. Which as you know, in this community is hard to do. I am just looking forward to reading this one!!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, you remember our Monstrous Beauty one with Beth Fama! :) Yeah, I like these when it makes sense for the book. We’re lucky Marcus was willing to play.

      I hope you like this one too, Vivien. I was so pleased when I saw your reaction to MIDWINTERBLOOD. This one is not quite as outrageously stunning, but it’s still a very compelling read. I think it’d be impossible for him to write anything else. If there’s a place for all different kinds of bloggers to agree, I’m glad it’s on a Sedgwick!

  20. A Canadian Girl

    I’m back from my blogging break! The premise of She’s Not Invisible sounds really intriguing and I love the photo tour because it makes the setting much easier to imagine. I’ve never read any of Sedgwick’s books so it’s good to know that he’s one of your favourite authors, Wendy. I now need to check out his books. Is there one in particular that you’d recommend?
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

    • Wendy Darling

      Welcome back, Z! You’re back just in time for me to be gone for a week or so, hah, but I’ll be by to visit you soon. :)

      I like seeing the places that authors were inspired by, too, and I wanted to visualize this story in particular because I imagined it being so confusing for Laureth.

      I loved MIDWINTERBLOOD, which won the Printz Award recently. (Ironic, since I rarely like Printz books.) I also was scared out of my mind by WHITE CROW, although that tends to be a more polarizing book.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay! I’m glad you’re going to give this book a shot, Bethzaida.

      Airport photos always make me think of LOVE, ACTUALLY now. Love is all around, you know. ;)

  21. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Ummm . . . I want to go to the Edgar Allen Poe cottage . . .

    So I’ve never read anything by Marcus Sedgwick before. When you said that he was one of your favorite authors though, of course I had to check him out. And when I looked him up on GR, I realized that I had, in fact, at least heard of him before (I put MIDWINTERBLOOD on my wishlist awhile ago). SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE is keeping company with several other Sedgwick books now, and I moved him WAY up my TBR list.
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

    • Wendy Darling

      I’d like to go to the Poe cottage, too! I wish I’d gone to see his grave in Baltimore, too, when I lived on the east coast.

      MIDWINTERBLOOD is…spectacular. It’s so different from anything else out there, though frankly it’s very adult in its writing and themes. I was so happy for him that he won the Printz award! I’m glad he’s now on your radar.

  22. kimbacaffeinate

    I have been to NY several times and in fact visited Poe’s house. I love the concept of She is Not Invisible. The msystery/suspense aspect and pov have me intrigued. This was a brilliant guest post, and I enjoyed the quote and sneak peak.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Four Seconds to Lose by K.A. Tucker

    • Wendy Darling

      You’ve been to Poe’s house?! That’s amazing, Kimba. When I asked Marcus to the do photo tour, that was one of the top locations I had in mind, and I was glad to see what it looked like. (I guess I could have just googled it for myself, but…you know.)

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Wendy Darling

      I feel like we don’t see nearly enough books that feature character with disabilities at all. I’m glad the author tackled something that was so clearly new to him.

      I am a huge fan of this author. This one’s very different from the others I’ve read, but I liked it all the same, just in a different way.

  23. Christina R.

    I’d love to read this book because I’m intrigued about being in the head of a blind teen girl who’s traveling to someplace she’s never been before and has the added responsibility of solving a mystery and keeping her brother safe.

    I read the excerpt,and it is brilliant!! LOVE IT! I’ve never read anything by this author, but I saw how much research he put into writing the voice of a blind teen by spending time with blind teens, and I’d love to “see” the world like she does.

    I’ve never been to any of these places, but I’d be overwhelmed even without being blind. She’s awfully brave to go on this trip!

    Lovely tour!

    Thank you :)

    • Wendy Darling

      I love it when publishers do excerpts, because it’s such a good way to see if the writing and story hook you! I’m glad this one whetted your appetite. :)

      And you know, I’ve been to both Heathrow and JFK many times and it is confusing as a sighted, experienced person, let alone someone who has other disadvantages going on. Laureth is something else for sure.

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