A woman walks into a small clothing store, and the sales lady makes note of the new customer. The woman picks up a few items of clothing and heads into a dressing room, emerging a few minutes later wearing the new outfit she picked out. The sales lady is surprised when she sees an unfamiliar customer as the woman walks out the door wearing the stolen clothes.
No, this is not a riddle for you to solve. This is just a snippet of the centuries-long life of Addie Larue, the protagonist in V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie Larue. Addie Larue is born in France in the late 1600s; her sole ambition is to see the world, but when she turns 23, her parents decide to marry her off, which dashed her hopes of leaving her small village. So, in a final act of desperation, Addie flees from her wedding ceremony and into the woods, praying to any god that would answer. And one does. Addie sells her soul to the Devil in exchange for eternal life, but the deal is not completely as it seems. Addie will be immortal, but she will also never be remembered by anyone she met. That is until she meets Henry, a boy that finally remembers her and makes her question everything she thought she knew.
Addie Larue lives a hard life, both physically and mentally. Social connections make up a big part of our lives. For Addie to go hundreds of years without anyone being able to even remember them is an extremely difficult thing to even grasp. The retraction of recognition from Addie’s daily life means no friends and no partner, severely limiting the amount of social interaction she gets each day, taking a toll on her mental health. It means no job, which denies her a steady source of income, and as a result, no stable living situation. Through The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, Schwab emphasizes just how important remembrance and human connections are.
With this book, Schwab delivers the message that remembrance is what keeps people sane. Addie questions how “a thing [can] be real if it cannot be remembered.” Through Addie, Schwab communicates that anything forgotten was not real in the first place. That sentence itself is already confusing enough, and after Addie’s centuries of contemplation, it is easy to see why she thinks that “being forgotten… is a bit like going mad.” Schwab shows us that forgetfulness has a direct effect on one’s sanity, which is why humans strive to be known and remembered. It makes us feel accomplished and loved, and it keeps us sane.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue pulls readers in with an intriguing plot and poignant writing. Although it moves a bit slowly, I recommend this book to young adult readers who enjoy realistic fiction, love stories, and poetic writing.