By Nevin Guler
Ever since I was a child, I loved reading books. I would always bring multiple books with me on vacation or request as many books as I could carry from my town’s library whenever I was home for winter break. When I first saw “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” on the Book of the Month instagram account, I was immediately drawn to the novel, not only because of the beautiful, simplistic cover, but because of the book’s unique concept. The title invited me to dive into the first chapter, making me wonder: why is Addie invisible to the public eye?
The story feels real when the setting flashes back and forth to the past and present day since
we learn Addie’s backstory, with her ups and downs throughout her long life. Addie’s, and later Henry’s, backstories feel relatable as both characters have had their own wounds of the love and heartbreak of losing a loved one.
There are certain special books out there I can’t put down; the adult fantasy novel “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue,” written by V.E. Schwab is one of them. The story focuses on the character Adeline “Addie” Larue, born in 18th century France. Feeling tied down as a woman and wanting to avoid an arranged marriage, Addie makes a deal with a dark god whom Addie names Luc to allow her freedom at the cost of her soul. As a result, the god grants Addie immortality, but the price is that no one in her small town will remember her, including her parents.
Whenever she leaves a room, even for just a moment, her acquaintances immediately forget who she is. She can’t write, say her name, or leave a mark through a pen or something as small as her footprints on the sand. Addie doesn’t even have her own home, having to sleep at multiple lovers’ apartments when they are out of town. And if she does come to said lover’s home with permission, they immediately forget who she is the next day, thinking that they were too drunk to remember her. For three hundred years, Addie continues to live her life despite the downside of not having the ability to leave her mark.
It’s not until Addie meets Henry Strauss, a man who works at a small bookstore in New York City, that she hears three words she hasn’t heard in three hundred years: “I remember you.”
Unlike Addie, Henry has clinical depression. Before he met Addie, he made a deal with Luc to be loved, but at the cost of not having a serious relationship with his friends or family members (and for them to see him only as who they want him to be). For example, despite Henry’s tumultuous relationship with his family, when he arrives to visit them, they welcome him with open arms and praise him for being a “hard worker,” something that he has never heard from them before. Henry is also seen as a perfect boyfriend, catching the attention of a barista before having to break up with her a week later after she attempts to burn all of his ex-girlfriend’s belongings. Even though he loves the praise and the attention he is receiving from friends, family, and even strangers, he does not feel validated from the compliments. Rather, he feels more alone than ever.
Reading V.E. Schwab’s novel feels like going on an adventure. I felt as if I was Addie Larue, traveling the world and visiting places such as New Orleans, Paris, Venice, Italy, London among others.
Henry also comes across as relatable through his insecurities, especially with this line: “Take a drink every time you hear you’re not enough. Not the right fit. Not the right look. Not the right focus. Not the right drive. Not the right time. Not the right job. Not the right path.”
I always love going back to this scene because I myself feel Henry’s anguish and always have thoughts regarding my own fears and insecurities. What I also love the most of this book is that all of the characters are flawed and mysterious in their own ways. For example, does Addie genuinely love Henry, or is she just elated at the fact that someone after three hundred years remembers her? Does Luc have feelings for Addie, or is he akin to an abusive partner by trying to put Addie down every time he visits her all the while waiting to take her soul?
In my opinion, you have to actually be drawn to the first sentence of a novel to see if you would actually like reading a particular novel, and I was instantly drawn by the first sentence. I could visualize all of Addie and Henry’s struggles and triumphs. I would rate this book five stars, and recently, I have heard that said novel will one day become a movie adaptation. Now, I don’t know about you, but I am excited to have an actual book being turned into a movie instead of Netflix’s nonsense stories from Wattpad (talking to you “The Kissing Booth” trilogy and “After”).
Read “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” and, even if it is not your cup of tea, I would at least recommend reading a good two chapters.