Title/Author: Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
In a nutshell (Publisher):
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone returns with an intricate thriller about a young woman’s disappearance and a group of strangers whose lives intersect in its wake.
Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct—accusations he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel forums, where he meets a charismatic and mysterious figure.
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 disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.
My verdict: Overall, a decent thriller, just not one of my favorites.
“There in the common playground at school, or in the sixth-form common room, all eyes were on me, but at night I did not exist, I was the Invisible Girl. Invisibility was my favorite state of existence.”Invisible Girl, Lisa Jewell
There was something different about this story compared to the other two I’ve read of Jewell’s – ‘Then She Was Gone‘ and ‘The Family Upstairs‘, the reason I got back on the thriller wagon! I loved her usual character development which was engrossing, but this one felt a little too dragged out, slowing down the pace. I enjoyed the book nevertheless, just not as much as I did with the previous two I had read.
The story was told from 3 different POVs – Owen Pick, a weird 33-year-old guy, who had been single his whole life; Cate Fours the mother of a family who had just moved into the neighborhood, living there temporarily, and Saffyre Maddox, a 17-year-old girl who had been self-harming since she was 10.
Owen Pick gave me the creeps in the beginning. He was a computer science lecturer, who taught 16-18 year olds, whose mother died when he was 18. His father was almost non-existent and always had excuses not to spend time with him. He lived with his Aunt Tessie, who didn’t treat him like a nephew and didn’t even allow him to enter her living room.
Georgia Fours, Cate’s daughter, suspected that Owen stalked her one day when she was walking home from school and gave her really weird vibes. He was accused of sexual misconduct and was given a 2-week suspension from school. But as the story progressed, I was given the impression that he was just a misunderstood guy.
Cate Fours, a physiotherapist and mother of two teenagers – Georgia and Josh. Her husband, Roan was a child psychologist and was busy most of the time. Ever since their move to Hamspstead, he seemed even more distracted, and oftentimes going off for his runs and once Cate caught him heading to the tube station, something he rarely did during a workday.
Their marriage almost ended one time when Cate suspected him of having an affair but immediately felt guilty when Roan was outraged and accused her of being ridiculous. Maybe she was overthinking again. One of Roan’s clients happened to be Saffyre, who was with him for three years.
Saffyre felt she wasn’t ready to be on her own yet, and still wanted to be under Roan’s care. She seemed to be charmed by Roan’s ability to stop her from self-harm and was attracted to his looks. So, when she saw him again, she decided to follow him and saw that he wasn’t the man he portrayed himself to be and she was utterly disappointed. But that didn’t deter her from stalking him and continued to do so even when she befriended Josh, Roan’s son. In him, she found a true friend and started feeling better about herself.
Then one day, on the night of Valentine’s Day, Saffyre went missing. Interviews and suspicion led to Owen Pick, the weird, creepy neighbor, who was the last to have seen her alive. Cate was relieved now that the suspect had been apprehended. But her intuition made her feel otherwise. Her husband’s nonchalant behavior towards the case was unsettling, her son’s reaction and sudden outburst one day caught her by surprise.
Something didn’t sit right. What was it? Did they catch the right guy? If so, then why was she feeling edgy? If not, the neighborhood was still unsafe.
Meanwhile, Owen was trying to defend himself, telling the police they had no evidence whatsoever to apprehend him. If he was guilty, why would he implicate himself by telling them he saw Saffyre the night she went missing? But his suspension from school, his regular visits to an incel (involuntary celibates) website and date-rape drugs found in his room made him the most possible suspect even though it proved nothing and had no connection to Saffyre. He tried to point the investigation towards the founder of the incel website, Bryn, whom he met, but apparently, this person didn’t exist.
Was Owen as guilty as he looked? What was the reason for Josh’s sudden outburst? Why didn’t he tell Cate about his friendship with Saffyre? What was he hiding? And why Roan didn’t seem to care at all?
One of the characters which I enjoyed reading was Josh, Cate’s son. He was intriguing and mysterious, making him one of the possible suspects. And I felt most sorry for Owen – the way he was questioned, which he didn’t deserve, and the lack of evidence for his apprehension. I just knew from the start he wasn’t guilty, although his story would want you to believe otherwise. Sometimes, I was swayed, and that was the whole point of the story, wasn’t it? To make you doubt yourself. But was I right about Owen?
‘Invisible Girl’ was a very slow burn for a thriller, slower than I expected. It only picked up towards the end of the second half. Was it worth it? Yes, because when it picked up, it was like you were suddenly on a bullet train!
There was drama, tension and twists and turns that you’d expect from Jewell. But I felt a little cheated because of how the story was steered, then it veered me off track. It was like another track was created, making the ending felt a little forced. I’m trying hard not to say anything more, because I don’t want to give anything away!
This book made me realize how much we judge a book by its cover and how easily we let others influence our thoughts about people whom we find different from us.
Overall, a decent thriller, just not one of my favorites. If you’re new to Jewell, don’t start with this. That said, I’m excited to see what Jewell has next!
Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the invitation to read this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
Have you read this? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!