All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins
When Vetty Lake finally moves back to her home town after her mother’s death, she must learn how to reconnect with old friends while acknowledging they are all now different people. At the same time, Vetty is in the process of finding herself. All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins is a true coming of age story.
Vetty and the other main characters are complex and real. Most are people you might want to be friends with. Each character has their own desires and fears and no one fits into a stereotypical box. It’s refreshing to read a young adult story that doesn’t rely on stereotypes for minor characters or to set up cliques.
Vetty in particular has a strong voice and complex inner life. Throughout the story she learns to take responsibility for her actions, but more importantly, her inactions. Many of the relationship issues she runs into are caused by not speaking up or taking the initiative, and while she doesn’t transform from the classic YA shy girl to outspoken popular girl, she does find her confidence.
Unfortunately, Vetty’s moments of introspection last too long in some places. There were a few times when I wanted to skip ahead and get back to the action instead of wallowing in her indecision. One of the key issues Vetty struggles with is being bisexual and coming out to her family and friends. However, she takes too long to identify as this for a modern teen. She even had to look up “lesbian” and “bisexual” because she didn’t know the difference. A modern teen would know this. They might still take a while to identify as one or the other, but Vetty and her readers don’t need passages of definitions.
However, Vetty’s experience as a bisexual teen felt very real. Over the course of the book, she’s interested in boys and girls, but not every boy and girl. Her feelings for the characters she likes vary from crush to love, which made her more real. Despite Vetty’s sexual awakening, there is no explicit sex or violence, but there is some heavy kissing and porn. The porn is not on the page, but something a couple of characters struggle with and a source of conflict. (I can’t say more without risking a spoiler.)
Honesty with one’s self and others is a key theme in All the Invisible Things. One of Vetty’s goals in moving home is reconnecting with her childhood best friend Pez (in a non-romantic way), but that connection can’t happen when they’re keeping secrets from each other.
Overall, All the Invisible Things by Orlangh Collins is a pleasant read with fun characters.