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What: All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins

Who: Bloomsbury YA

When: March 7th 2019

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.

A warm, witty, important story about being a young woman today, and what it’s like to find a real connection amid all the noise. Perfect for fans of Holly Bourne and Laura Steven’s The Exact Opposite of Okay.

Vetty’s family is moving back to London, and all she can think about is seeing Pez again. They were inseparable when they were small – roaming the city in the long summers, sharing everything. But everyone’s telling her it’ll be different now. After all, a boy and a girl can’t really be friends without feelings getting in the way, can they?

Vetty thinks differently … until Pez tells her she’s ‘not like other girls’. But what does that even mean? Is it a good thing or not? Suddenly she’s wondering whether she wants him to see her like the others – like the ultra-glamorous March, who’s worked some sort of spell on Pez, or the girls in the videos that Pez has hidden on his laptop.

How can she measure up to them? And who says that’s what a girl is supposed to be like anyway?

The first thing you need to know about All the Invisible Things is that the main character, Vetty, is bisexual! And the word is used on the page, bless. The discussion around bisexuality in the book is pretty cisnormative but I did read an early review copy so I’m not sure if that was changed later on. Even so, I was so glad to have a young bi girl main character that is sure of her sexuality because even though I recognise the need for stories about characters discovering their sexuality it’s nice to have stories about characters who already know and are comfortable with their sexuality, as well.

The story of All the Invisible Things turned out to be quite different from what I had expected it to be. Firstly, I thought that this would definitely feature a romance between Pez (Vetty’s childhood best friend) and Vetty but to my surprise they stayed friends the entire time. And there were quite a few occasions where Vetty clearly explained that she loved Pez as a friend and nothing more. Though there was a slightly confusing scene towards the end involving a kiss but I guess that was just them sharing their love in an intimate way even though they’re not romantically interested in each other. To be honest I would have preferred that not to be in there as I think it did confuse the friendship for me and possibly the two of them, as well.

When I realised that All the Invisible Things was not going to be about long lost best friends falling in love with each other I didn’t really mind because it let me focus on the other things this book was shining a light on. Like how Vetty had to grow up and become a pseudo-mother to her younger sister after their mum died. Vetty’s feelings towards two people that she does have a romantic interest in. Vetty learning what it means to be a good friend. The way Vetty is sure of her bisexuality but isn’t sure if everyone else will understand it. And last but not least, Vetty’s sexuality in general. There was so much exploration of her discovering her interest in sex and discovering what works for her and what makes her feel good. And tied into that was Vetty recognising her own beauty. These last two aspects of the book were my favourite. I feel like YA tries to shy away from girls’ sexuality and I seriously commend the author for not doing that. Because of this I think this book will be integral to so many bi girls, to see themselves on the page, but also girls in general.

I truly understand why this book is called All the Invisible Things because the things this book explores are all the invisible things in life. The things tangled up in feelings and people and yourself. It was a nice moment to discover where the title fit in, and I think it truly represents what the story is about. I could go on, and tell you about all the other things this book covers but I think this is the kind of book that you should discover mostly on your own. I had hardly an idea of what the book was about, except that it was about a bi girl moving back home, and I think that was a perfect way to be introduced to Vetty’s life. So if you’re keen on a book that is all about the invisible things and tackles topics that aren’t often seen in YA then I think All the Invisible Things will be a good fit.

© 2019, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

use of ableist language, cisnormativity, death of parent (lymphoma), friend in car accident, bisexual erasure, friend with addiction (pornography), homophobia, romantic cheating (friend’s parent)

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Posted on: April 16, 2019 • By: Chiara

2 Responses to All The Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins: Really About the Invisible Things in Life

  1. Yay for bisexual characters, and that’s awesome that it explores women’s sexuality so well in the book. We need more books like that – especially for the YA audience. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one, even though it wasn’t what you initially assumed it would be about. It does seem like the kiss with her friend should have been excluded if a romance between them was never the goal.

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      It was really great to see Vetty exploring her sexuality in this book! I think it can be so important to queer girls and non-queer girls alike because so often it’s something that isn’t spoken about at all.

      I really felt that way about the kiss, as well! I just wish it wasn’t in there, sigh.

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