Well-drawn characterizations and a compelling opening launch Invisible Ellen, a unique story of friendship by actress/writer Shari Shattuck. The book begins with an intriguing description of Ellen Homes, a 24 year-old, 273 pound, socially-awkward woman who shares a low-income, one-room apartment—and a "love of caloric excess," namely in the form of bacon—with her cat named Mouse. Ellen was once a product of the foster care system, where she was either taunted or ignored due to a prominent scar on her face and her left eye, halfway closed, which limits her vision. Ellen's background, along with her physical deformity, encourages her to espouse evasive techniques of anonymity to accommodate her limitations and cultivate her reclusiveness. But one afternoon, a young, blind woman boards the same bus that Ellen takes to her job cleaning at a Costco store, and Ellen instinctively intervenes to save the stranger from being mugged. Ellen's once-manageable, invisible life—spent quietly observing, from a distance, her struggling, also afflicted neighbors and co-workers, namely a troubled, pregnant woman and a drug dealer—is suddenly upended by the incident. In an ironic twist, the blind woman named Temerity takes an interest in Ellen and after more than six years of isolation, offers Ellen friendship—along with the motivation to more fully participate in life and courageously help others, regardless of complications.
Shattuck (Legacy) has written an upbeat, entertaining survival story about the souls of lost human beings often ignored by society and shows how lives can be profoundly transformed through unlikely human connections.
Putnam Adult, $26.95 Hardcover, 9780399167614, 304 pp
Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (6/5/14), click HERE