Updated: Oct 20
“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”
Imagine living forever, being able to watch peace melt into war and then back to peace again, to watch all-powerful empires crumble, and to watch the future become one with the past. Eternal life would entail living among the greats like Shakespeare, Oprah, and everyone in between. This was the case for Adeline LaRue who was born in Villon, France, in the early 18th century. Although, there is a twist; no one can remember her. From the minute the immortal Addie LaRue leaves your sight, she is immediately forgotten.
Addie traded her soul to the devil for this gift, literally. The god of the night, Luc, granted her the ability to live forever in the eventual exchange for her soul. This god assumed that Addie would quickly buckle under the weight of constantly being forgotten and immediately yield her soul. However, Luc was mistaken, and he will not be the last to severely underestimate the heroine’s strength. V. E. Schwab beautifully writes about a young, stubborn girl who lives her life unapologetically for herself, who lives her life in spite of the odds, who lives her life in hopes someone will recall her from memory.
From picnicking on Notre Dame to sailing across the Atlantic, Addie does not let humankind’s fickle memory get in the way of her leading a truly unforgettable life. Although Adaline is not remembered long enough to make her own mark on the world, that does not stop her from influencing others. Her character acts as a dandelion in the wind, although instead of spreading seeds, she shapes the world by spreading thousands of ideas. Her ideas begin to grow and eventually bloom into hundreds of pieces of art over the years. That is until she meets an anomaly that is somehow immune to her gift and changes the course of her life forever.
“Because time is cruel to all and crueler still to artists. Because vision weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades. ” He leans close, twists a lock of her hair around one finger. “Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end, ” he says, “everyone wants to be remembered.”
Everything about ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ completely blew me away. At first, I was skeptical. This genre of book is not my typical read, but after the first few pages, I knew that V. E. Schwab had me hooked. The book’s themes are current and tie deeply into the modern world, so much so that I think about this book almost every day.
One of the main omnipresent themes depicted by author V. E. Schwab is mental health. While reading the story, you bare-witness to characters feeling like no one likes them, no matter how hard they try. The feeling of disappointing everyone around them, like they will never be enough. Unfortunately, these oppressive thoughts are a universal sentiment felt by many people around the globe, making the exploration of this theme all the more relevant. V. E. Schwab does not use these topics lightheartedly but instead leaves the audience feeling hopeful as the characters find the strength to overcome these all-consuming emotions. There are elements of substance abuse and hopelessness although, the characters abilities to overcome these obstacles make for a truly inspiring story.
“It’s just a storm, he tells himself, but he is tired of looking for shelter. It is just a storm, but there is always another waiting in its wake.”
The infamous V. E. Schwab layers 300 years of history into one enthralling, and beautifully planned masterpiece. In all, ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ raises an important question, is Addie’s situation freedom or a curse? After much thought, I concluded that her predicament is both: a curse and freedom. Addie LaRue took the curse given to her and made it into liberty by living her life to the fullest, making her own mark on the world. ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ causes you to wonder: what is your impact on the world, and what mark do you want to leave?