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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Review: Invisible Me


A hearty congrats is due to one of my favorite bloggers, JACP, on becoming a published novelist! While she's been (phenomenally) in print before, this is way different; her first book was a memoir so this is the first time we get to see her creativity and insight in fiction. And I am impressed.

Tzipi has chosen a meaningful, relevant theme, expressed it through a very original content choice, and written it in a style both original and pleasing. Add that to the humor in realism we have come to expect from her, and we have a real winner on our hands.

I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't yet managed to get their hands on a copy (well, what other excuse would you have for not reading it yet?) so I'll just touch on a couple of points:

While the format (not your typical narrative!) took some getting used to and seemed potentially annoying at first, I ended up applauding that choice. Besides for lending an original character to the book, it keeps the reader moving along at a smooth clip. Between the dialogue, writings, and narrative, you never get that feeling of dragging through the print.

Telling a story through the thoughts of a person with selective mutism is an extremely original and quite ingenious way to examine greater themes of communication and relationships. Very, very clever. However, I'm a trifle concerned that it may be too clever. Not because Tzipi didn't weave her themes well enough, but because I don't trust the majority of the intended audience to appreciate the subtle messages. And although Tzipi has been very careful in her portrayal of selective mutism, the case in point is rather unusual, so I wonder if it mightn't inadvertently deepen misperceptions of the condition. Hopefully I'm just underestimating the depth of the average reader...

Of course, you can't really judge a book until you've reached the end; the entire journey hangs on the point of arrival. Fear not -- the final pages of Invisible Me are both satisfying and definitely un-cliché! The only problem is that it is liable to leave readers shouting "Encore!" So, Tzipi, thanks for the read but I hope your pen is still moving merrily along!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It reminded me a bit of the YA novel "Speak"--if only because both protaganists in the novels deal with the same sort of issue, although the plots otherwise are quite different.
It does seem to be geared towards a YA sort of crowd, which I think is good--there isn't much Jewish literature out there for that audience.
It can appeal to boys, too-my younger brother enjoyed it very much.

J.A.P. said...

First of all Bas Melech- THANKS, and MAZAL TOV!!!!

Now, Anonymous- I have to tell you something so funny. I spent an entire summer looking up books on selective mutism or written about characters who dont talk for whatever reason just to get a feel for how I wanted my book to sound. In the end I chose the sound all on my own and kind of tweaked it as I went along.

And then six months after my manuscript was handed in, a friend told me about the movie Speak, which I watched, and then read the book- HAVING NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE. I found it amazing that in all my searching for books on the subject I never heard of this one, even though it's so popular.

And when I read it I was in for a total shock because it felt like I was reading something I could have just written. The style was so similar, but it was totally unplanned as I had never even heard of the book until way later.

I have to say though I feel good about it because Speak was a huge bestseller and a big part of its success was its voice.

Bas Melech- yeap, most of my readers will not get the point. They won't get the voice and they will try and analyze Selective Mutism way more than it's worth, but what can I do? I don't feel like compromising my work just yet.

Thanks again!

Beach Concerts said...

Good For The Jews with special guests DeLeon and comedians Morgan Murphy, Seth Herzog, and Rachel Sklar is happening at the Highline Ballroom tonight! It’s going to be a great time, hope to see you there!
Tonight! (December 7, 2009)
Concert starts @ 8PM
Doors open @ 6PM
Tickets $15.00

Discount code: GFTJ

The hilarious music duo Good For the Jews bring their national tour to New York for a night of unorthodox music and comedy on December 7, the minus-fifth night of Hanukkah.

GOOD FOR THE JEWS:

Jewish music for people who don't like Jewish music.

No songs about dreidels.

And no Israeli folk-dancing.

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“Like Sarah Silverman and Jon Stewart, Good For the Jews is wickedly hilarious.” Village Voice

“Good For the Jews: a Jewish Flight of the Conchords.” Denver Westword

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DeLEON makes “Spanish-Jewish indie rock” by infusing 15th hcentury folk music with the entrancing cadences of the ancient Sephardic tradition. They have toured with Gogol Bordello and recently completed a 20-city tour with Brazilian legends Os Mutantes.

MORGAN MURPHY has been a writer for the TV shows Crank Yankers and Jimmy Kimmel Live. She has performed standup comedy on Premium Blend and Last Call with Carson Daly, and is currently writing for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

SETH HERZOG has appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Chappelle’s Show, and VH1’s Best Week Ever.

Lvnsm27 said...

very interesting, it's nice to read an enjoyable novel every now and then

David_on_the_Lake said...

I just saw this book in the bookstore...and smiled to myself.....