Ellen’s only wish in life is to be completely unnoticed by everyone. A traumatic childhood taught her that keeping to herself is the safest way to avoid the pain and humiliation others have always poured on her. She has accomplished her goal. People look straight through her at the bus stop, on the sidewalk and on the rare visit to a store. She has her groceries delivered and, aside from her night shift job, rarely leaves her studio apartment. The one hobby Ellen has developed is writing about people she sees and the things they do in her notebook. She writes mostly about random events, but she keeps detailed information about the neighbors she can see from her window.
A spontaneous decision to get off at the same bus stop as a woman who seems to be the complete opposite of her may change the entire course of Ellen’s life. Her need to follow this woman, Temerity, is inexplicable even to her. Temerity eventually feels Ellen’s presence despite her concerted efforts to remain hidden. Ellen is shocked to realize that Temerity instantly sees into her rather than through her. An insistent Temerity refuses to let Ellen out of a dinner and, consequently, lead her into an awkward relationship of sorts. During Temerity’s determined efforts to draw Ellen out of her shell, they unintentionally witness shocking events that cannot be ignored and that they feel obligated to help rectify. For Ellen, taking action not only means interacting more closely with Temerity but also with people in general.
Everyone has struggled over a life-changing leap of faith or has questioned their worth. Most readers are likely to identify with Ellen’s plight in one way or another. Invisible Ellen is not a coming of age story. It is a story of self-awareness and learning to truly live life. It is a personal journey that will move readers to reevaluate their own lives as well as how they view others. Shattuck has deftly captured the essence of realizing one’s own value in this world.
Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Putnam Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.