Author: Carla Buckley
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sixteen years ago, Dana Carlson left her hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota behind without a second glance. Now, Dana receives a call from Peyton, the teenage daughter of Dana’s estranged sister, Julie. Julie is dying of kidney disease, and Dana may be the only one who can save her. Dana drops everything in the midst of a work crisis and races back to her hometown, only to discover she’s too late. But when Dana starts digging into Julie’s last days, she discovers her sister was looking into the incidence of kidney disease in the town, and Dana vows to follow her trail, wherever it may lead.
Invisible by Carla Buckley is one of those novels that has so many different facets: well-developed characters, difficult relationships, and a mystery that frames and carries the novel. Dana’s at the center of this maelstrom of events, and at the beginning, she’s difficult to understand. She seems removed and remote, cold towards her teenage niece who she’s never met. But as the novel progresses and the reader gets to know Dana, both in the present day and through flashbacks, they come to sympathize with and understand her. She’s a flawed but realistic character that readers will enjoy getting to know.
The relationship between Dana and Peyton is a difficult one. Peyton has never met her aunt, so it’s understandable why she feels abandoned and alone. Dana tries to make amends, to reach out to her niece, but in Peyton’s eyes, it’s too little too late. It’s interesting to see the dynamic between these two, especially because Buckley allows the reader to see it from both points of view. Adding Peyton as a narrator increases the complexity of the novel; it would be too easy to write her off as a bratty teenager. Instead, Buckley gets the reader into Peyton’s head as well, so they can feel her raw, ragged emotions after the death of her mother.
The mystery behind the incidence of kidney disease in Black Bear is well written in Invisible. Is there a common factor that’s causing it? This is the question from the very beginning. Occurrences certainly seem to be high, but it’s perfectly possible it’s just coincidence. As Dana explores this, she gets in over her head. Indeed, she stops thinking of consequences as she proceeds down her warpath. This would make a great book club pick, as readers will want to dissect Dana’s motives and discuss whether she’s making the right decisions.
In the end, Invisible is an easy read, though it’s a thought-provoking one. It’s a novel where there are no simple answers or tidy solutions; instead, it has all the messiness of real life. There are aspects of the novel that are predictable, yet the storyline is still interesting. If you’re looking for a complex novel that delivers an enjoyable experience, this is a good bet.