When Clover, the main character in Jeanne Ray's Calling Invisible Women, wakes up invisible one morning, she is horrified to discover that neither her overworked and exhausted pediatrician husband nor her unemployed and depressed post-college aged son, nor her self-obsessed college cheerleader daughter notice that she is in fact invisible. As long as all the things she does around the house continue to be accomplished and she wears clothing on her invisible body, they do not notice that she in fact entirely lacking a visible presence. For them, it's life as usual. But for Clover, well and truly invisible, life is nothing like usual.
As she tries to navigate life even more invisible than she had been (because what woman of a certain age doesn't feel invisible in so many small ways already), she realizes that she can use her invisibility for the good of society. Putting her journalism background to use, she researches invisibility whenever it is mentioned although she realizes that few pop culture nods to invisibility are realistic or quite like what she is facing. And when she spots a personal ad in her own paper, "Calling invisible women" to come to a meeting at the local Sheraton, mustering up the courage to attend, she will find a group of women all suffering from true invisibility like she is and she will find that even without being able to see her body, she can let her inner light shine and make a real difference with the help of these women. Being invisible also allows her to see the true emotional needs of her own family, the things that she was too wrapped up to see about them just as they have so long been too wrapped up to properly see her.
Accessible and engrossing, this is storytelling the way it should be. It is appealing, straightforward, eminently relatable, and by turns humorous and sad. The characters are well-rounded, sympathetic (yes, even though many of them don't notice Clover's invisibility, they are still sympathetic), and very realistic. Clover herself is a wonderful character, discovering hidden strengths she never suspected, changing, and being empowered. The pace of the book builds as Clover comes to terms with her situation and builds again as the invisible women plan their campaign. Although this book posits actual invisibility (and there is a legitimate cause behind the actual invisibility) instead of just using it as a metaphor, anyone who has ever felt unappreciated or invisible to family or society will definitely appreciate this thoughtful and entertaining novel. I have already recommended it to many of my friends, all women of a certain age who have, without exception, said, "I'm definitely invisible. I need to read that."
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.