Thursday, April 18, 2013

Transparent by Natalie Whipple: LOVED IT!

Transparent called to me because of the summary alone. I had to know why an invisible girl would have to flee from anyone. Why does someone who can’t be seen have to hide from danger? So Transparent was then downloaded from Edelweiss to my Nook. Natalie Whipple wrote quite an original concept for a popular ability such as invisibility. There were a lot of surprising layers to the lead character Fiona that I wouldn’t have thought of, especially for a teenager. She can’t turn invisible whenever she wants because she was born invisible. Fiona has never seen what she looks like. She has no idea of what her hair color or eye color is. She has no cool suit that goes invisible when she touches it either so when she can’t be seen she is pretty much nude. She is a real invisible girl with no conveniences and I loved it.



An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Fiona is a very complicated character and as a result of her family she has put up many walls. Even though Fiona is an invisible girl with issues, they are on a realistic level that readers will connect with. She struggles to please her famous criminal father who uses his own ability to control his entire family, her mother who she doesn’t feel cares enough about her over her own dysfunctional relationship with her father and her brothers Miles and Graham who both have their own issues with the family. There is no secure level of trust when Fiona deals with them. Except for Miles who is her only confidant. While Fiona and her mother struggle to stay away from her father she never knows if her mom or Graham are telling her the truth about their plan to keep her safe. She is constantly worrying about her father finding her and forcing her to use her ability to help him in his criminal activities.

Even though she is hiding out away from her father’s territory her name is stilled recognized and this keeps her on her toes. So when she meets a group of friends she struggles with letting them in. Fiona always questions when someone is being legitimately nice to her. This is when I absolutely loved her because Natalie Whipple allowed her to be vulnerable. She lets people in and instead of worrying about what could happen to her, she worries about her friends and their families. Fiona’s ability hides her from the world but her father’s ability to follow through on a deathly threat keeps people away from her.

Enter Bradley and Bea who smash that problem to bits. These two are great friends to Fiona and push her to have fun. Bea especially shows her the possibilities of a loving and trusting family. This is another special element of the book Transparent. Whipple tells a fantastic story about different levels of friendship and family. Fiona comes from a massively dysfunctional family that needs help, while Bea comes from a family that would die for each other. Brady and his brother Seth come from a family that has been hit with loss and struggle to rebuild it. Which was a great metaphor for the house they are actually renovating.

Now we can get down to Seth, who even though was a bit of a know it all, I still loved his character. He was weaved in the book just enough to establish a great mystery. I liked that he wasn’t nice to Fiona at first. Very Mr. Darcy, especially with his willingness to help people. He is someone who helps because you are a good person. Oh, and he can definitely keep a secret which is good for Fiona. He holds the most surprising element of the story that I was not expecting. I still can’t believe that I didn’t see it before. Natalie Whipple is very crafty indeed.

Transparent had an X-Men vibe to it because of the multiple abilities the characters are capable of, but it has it’s own originality because of the level of the abilities. Nothing is outstandingly grand like shooting lasers out of your eyes but subtle which I found refreshing. Miles for example can conjure up scents, which doesn’t sound that spectacular until Natalie Whipple writes about it. Bea can imitate voices, providing scattered humor and even help Fiona out of a bind.

Transparent had a lot of talking points that would make a good book club selection. I would love to tell you more about it but that would spoil the best surprise. All I can say is that the walls Fiona has built will come down but in the best possible way that I couldn’t imagine possible. Fiona is a great example of what exactly goes on in the head of a girl…exactly!  

I guess it was bound to happen that one of my book song picks wouldn't be available on Youtube or So you and I both will have to settle on this little sample from iTunes. It's the reason why I stalled on posting this review. I just couldn't find another song that compared to this one or this version of the Beatles cover. People who have read Transparent will SO get it. Enjoy!

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