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Il Était Une Fois: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab Book Review

March 19, 2021 No Comments

Once upon a time, I didn’t think I would finish this. Once upon a time, I cried myself to sleep because this book hurt. Once upon a time, I found the redemption of 2020 — and it was Addie LaRue.

Once upon a time, you stumble upon the type of book that leaves a bittersweet taste on your tongue: because it was so good, so wonderful, but also deeply emotional. I started Addie LaRue 4 times before I committed. Why? It Hurt. Because I am no longer in New York, because I have felt the emotion that Addie was going through— the thought of running out of time, because in some really cosmic way— Addie’s story mirrored our experience in the middle of a pandemic. But then I stuck with it, I opened page one and started reading. I read in small doses, one chapter at a time, and slowly I felt the world collapse around me and this book was meant to be in my hands at that exact moment. Not a moment sooner, or later, but that exact second.

Like I say, not a book review. You can read a synopsis on Goodreads or Barnes & Nobles, but I am here to say why you should read it. Why this book is the best book to come out of 2020, and ironically, it couldn’t have a better stage than a pandemic. GASP! How can you say that? Allow me to explain. We all feel as if we are invisible; unable to touch, to leave a mark, to even sign a signature for takeout. That is captured so beautifully in Addie’s story— the helplessness, the hopelessness —then we hit the moment that changes.

On a personally note, it was difficult and brutal to read this. I am not in New York. I am not in Manhattan. And my heart still breaks over that decision. But I got to see my town, my Highline, my favorite haunts, through Addie’s eyes and that became its own sort of magic. That I had a hand in Addie’s story because I remembered.

Back to why you should read this book— because it hits so many emotional points that leave you thinking about YOUR story, the one you tell, the things you are remembered by. That is the power of an idea, of a story. Would you have made the same deal as Addie? What would your conditions have been? After 300 years how would your story be told? It a beautiful way to shine the mirror back on the reader and consider what our stories will be, who will remember us when we leave the room, and what is our impact on those who we cross paths with.

Then we get to the actual story, the actual characters, and let me just fangirl and give a standing ovation for the craftmanship in this book. Following Addie’s arc is something that can only be said— and then we follow Luc’s arc and… But what about Henry’s? and so you see, I won’t spoil anything, but the ending is one of immense satisfaction. Not happiness. Not bows and ribbons. Not tears and heartbreak and tissues. But deep Satisfaction. Which I appreciate on so many levels.

Schwab has given me a book that vies for my heart with A Darker Shade of Magic. It is equally nuanced and beautiful in ways that are personal to me. While some say The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue starts slow, and I agree with that, it is meant to build. It is a note that becomes a melody, to be savored softly in the dim light of dawn, to be snatched in intimate moments, and enjoyed until the last line.

I didn’t mark this book, and I think you know what that means. I took off my writer hat, my critique hat, my anything but pure blissful reader hat. There are no notes, which is sad in a book about being unable to leave a mark, but know that I will reread it. I simply cannot get over how beautiful The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is and I will treasure it so close to my heart. Why should you read it? Because it is timeless. It exploits our wants and desires, it showers us with the idea and magnitude of our decision, it leaves us breathless as we stand still in a single moment of time. And I will leave you with that.

Keep Fangirling,

Camille

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Camille

Ca·su·al-Fan·girl - someone chasing their dreams and living life to the fullest. My name is Camille and I am currently an MFA student in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I know enough about many things to live dangerously and have a good time exploring the best things in life. Thanks for coming on this fun adventure! Read More

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