Publish Date: October 13, 2020
“There’s no such thing as happy endings; we all know that.” – Invisible Girl
Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.
In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.
Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.
Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.
Invisible Girl is a captivating, engaging story about dysfunctional families, a missing girl, a loner accused of a crime, and a series of sexual assaults.
Saffyre Maddox has been suffering the aftermath of a traumatizing incident for over 8 years. She is self-harming and her guardian-uncle sends her to therapy. After treating Saffyre for 3 years, her therapist Roan Fours ends the sessions and she picks up a new hobby: stalking him & his family from afar.
Owen Pick is the odd, creepy, neighbor of the Fours family that lives across the street with his aunt. He has no friends, never has had a girlfriend, and wants to change his sad and lonely existence. He makes a series of VERY BAD decisions that put him in the spotlight of the police and land him in jail.
The book is told from multiple POVs and started off as a slow burn, but halfway through it, the plot’s foundation is laid, the characters are fleshed out, the pace picks up, and the story becomes riveting as Saffyre disappears and leaves behind a trace of blood, pieces of her phone, and foul play is suspected.
The reader is not sure what happened to Saffyre, and the truth is uncovered slowly, but it definitely makes for good reading when we find out what contributed to her disappearance.
There are some triggers in this book about abuse, trauma, and sexually deviant behavior but it’s subtle, tastefully done, and thankfully not graphic. It remind readers that there are people among us – like friends, neighbors, and even spouses – who are not normal. The incel aspects in the story were eye opening and very educational because it exposed me to a world that I know nothing about.
My favorite quotes:
“But he stayed, inside my head, inside my DNA, my marrow, my breath, my blood, in every single part of me. He stayed. My tumor.”
“You read about it all the time, about people confessing to things they haven’t done. Is this how it happens? Is it your own brain that does it to you, that plants thing there to frame you, like bent copper?”
“When you’re pretty everyone just assumes you must have a great life. People are so short-sighted sometimes. People are so stupid.”
“But people, you know, they like having someone to blame, don’t they? They like knowing who the bad person is. Who to throw the eggs at. The rocks.”
“Everything about you is an illusion.”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is about human nature, judgements, toxic masculinity, assault, betrayal, lies, secrets, family, love, and marriage. It has a well-laid plot that ties everything together nicely with a satisfying ending. I’ve read a few of Lisa Jewell’s books and this one tops my list despite some of the squirm-worthy themes.
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.