by Carla Buckley
Genres: Mystery, Women's fiction
Growing up, Dana Carlson and her older sister, Julie, are inseparable—Dana the impulsive one, Julie calmer and more nurturing. But then a devastating secret compels Dana to flee from home, not to see or speak to her sister for sixteen years. When she receives the news that Julie is seriously ill, Dana knows that she must return to their hometown of Black Bear, Minnesota, to try and save her sister. Yet she arrives too late, only to discover that Black Bear has changed, and so have the people in it. Julie has left behind a shattered teenage daughter, Peyton, and a mystery—what killed Julie may be killing others, too. Why is no one talking about it? Dana struggles to uncover the truth, but no one wants to hear it, including Peyton, who can’t forgive her aunt’s years-long absence. Dana had left to protect her own secrets, but Black Bear has a secret of its own—one that could tear apart Dana’s life, her family, and the whole town.
I was intrigued by the synopsis of Invisible and wanted to know what secret the sisters were keeping. This novel offered so many different elements; compassion, addiction, mystery, a cluster of unexplained illness, and an emotional journey. I became swept up in the tale, the characters and discovering the truth.
The prologue left me baffled as we jump ahead sixteen years but the author slowly revealed things and the pieces began to click into place.We meet Dana Carlson a demolition expert who is in the middle of taking down an abandoned building when she gets a phone call from Black Bear, Minnesota. The call is from Peyton; her sister’s child, the one she has not seen since her birth sixteen years ago. She learns her sister is dying and after all these years she heads back to Black Bear and the secrets she has buried there. The tale that unfolds has several stories lines and each kept me entangled as Dana confronts her past and races to protect the people of Black Bear.
The tale is told from the POV’s of Dana and that of sixteen year old Peyton. Dana is complicated in the beginning and her motives unclear, but as we slide back and catch glimpses of her past I came to respect and adore her. I will not give things away, but Dana is one tough cookie, who loves unconditionally with great sacrifice. Her only shortcoming in my opinion was that she put the needs of everyone else first and it cost her and her family. Peyton despite some rocky times has grown up secure in the fact that her parents love her, she is compassionate about fish, and at the beginning of each of her chapters she tells us about a species of fish. Read them because they hint to her thoughts and emotions. I liked Peyton, she is kind of a loner and I became emotionally attached to her. Peyton’s emotions were raw and felt real. I thought Buckley did a great job of developing the characters. Other characters added to the tale, and while there was a romance both for Dana and Peyton it took a backseat in this emotional tale.
Buckley did a wonderful job of bringing Black Bear, Minnesota and the tale to life. While not everyone will understand how a secret can drive two sisters apart; as both a mother and sibling I could grasp what the sisters were going through and I understand that sometimes time itself creates an impenetrable wall that cannot be broken through. The tale felt genuine, the people dying in town and the events that took place felt real as the author blurred the lines of reality. The tale she told has happened, does happen and will happen again in small towns around the world. The pacing was wonderful and I loved getting inside the minds of both Peyton and Dana. The only thread that bothered me was about Dana’s life in Chicago and I felt it did not really add to the tale and brought up some issues that could not properly be addressed. The ending was open ended and left me with a good feeling.
I recommend Invisible to fans of contemporary fiction, small towns, character driven novels and woman’s fiction. The tale addressed some realistic issues and will make you question the government, technology and small manufacturing towns. I look forward to reading more from this author.
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