invisible-i-am by Gregg Davis (Harriet Showman)

invisibleiam

An experimental, literary YA multimedia narrative centered on the experiences of 16-year-old Gregg Davis, who undergoes brutal bullying and sexual violence by her peers. Spanning the mediums of the printed page, online social media and the screen, this story offers a wrenching, empathetic look at the experience of bullying through a victim’s eyes, and then extends this theme of oppression, humiliation and violence to address issues of historical and systemic racism in the U.S. today. A picture book.

Read Chapter One for free at invisible-i-am.

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This was definitly an interesting and different read. This story is told in diary form, with the main character, Gregg, telling her story. The writing is witty and funny, even throughout all the heartbreaking stuff, but it’s also true that the language is not that of a 16 y.o.. Actually, because I had read the blurb so long ago, while I was reading, I thought that Gregg was actually older, maybe more 18 than 16.

The story starts out in a very interest way, showing Gregg being a victim of bullying and abuse, and her reaction to it and deciding that she’s better than that. Then the book does an 180, and the second part is about Gregg coming into herself and realizing that she’s more than just a boy’s girlfriend or a relationship or an event. Cool, right? Yeah… no… see, there’s “The Code” and then there’s the mentions of slavery and racism, and all of those things could work and be super interesting, if they connected at all or if their importance was made clear, but it wasn’t. I definitly felt that there was a break in the storytelling, and while the first part went by in a flash – the bullying and consequences part – the rest of the book dragged on and was way too fast at the same time. I honestly can’t make sense of some things, and I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now.

One thing that was extremely disappointing was how the reason behind the bullying was explained. Because it didn’t need to be explained, right? People are jerks sometimes. But Gregg has a chance to confront her ex-boyfriend – you know, her next door neighbor and best friend since forever – about why he did it, why he not only cheated on her, but was a willing participant in the terrors she suffered. The answer was a non-answer. It made no sense. 

I felt that Gregg had a lot of potential as a character, but not even she is fully fleshed out during this short book.

To sum it up, this has a very interesting concept and the use of art throughout the book is super imaginative. I do wish the art had a little more to do with the text itself though. But while all the themes touched here are SUPER important, neither is dealt with in the best way, with most of them being mentioned but not developed, and that was a real shame. The disconnection between the first and second part of the story didn’t help me in liking this book either.

I thought that it was a great attempt, that unfortunately didn’t work.

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