Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Sushmita Singh
Image of a women standing at the edge of a mountain peakUnsplash
“…it is sad, of course, to forget.
But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten.
To remember when no one else does.” V. E. Schwab

We all want to live a long and happy life. All of us, at one time or other, have thought about how nice it would be to live forever. The stories of vampires and immortal beings have fascinated us from our childhood. How we all wished we had a genie in our life who can grant us three wishes. Living forever seems exciting. You can travel the world, literally. Read every book ever written. Do anything and everything and never run out of time.

But what if you have to spend your eternal life alone? How long can we survive that? No one will remember you, not even your loved ones. Do you want this?

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a book about a girl, Addie, born in a small town in France, Villon, in 1714. She makes a Faustian bargain with the gods of the dark. In the bargain to live forever, she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she ever meets- cursed for long but lonely life.

That’s it. That’s what you need to know to start reading this book. I loved this book so much. In some books, it takes time to forget yourself in the story, but this book captures your interest on page one. In every chapter, there is something I wish I could share here, but for obvious reasons, I can’t. So I will share the things that I loved the most, and that stuck with me.

“She will grow out of it, her parents say — but instead, Adeline feels herself growing in, holding tighter to the stubborn hope of something more.
The world should be getting larger. Instead, she feels it shrinking, tightening like chains around her limbs as the flat lines of her own body begin to curve out against it, and suddenly the charcoal beneath her nails is unbecoming, as is the idea that she would choose her own company over Arnaud’s or George’s or any man who might have her.
She is at odds with everything, she does not fit, an insult to her sex, a stubborn child in a woman’s form, her head bowed and arms wrapped tight around her drawing pad as if it were a door. And when she does look up, her gaze always goes to the edge of town.
“A dreamer,” scorns her mother.
“A dreamer,” mourns her father.
“A dreamer,” warns Estele.
Still, it does not seem such a bad word.
Until Adeline wakes up.

We have all faced the burden of judgements from society, no matter in what era someone lived in. The expectations may be different at different times, but they are always there. It feels so accurate even though the author is talking about the time of the 1700s, a time when women were expected to just settle down, marry, and start a family and if you don’t fit in these norms, you’re a disgrace. Don’t we all still hear this? To be more practical. Society expects us to act in a certain way. To follow the rules. You’re criticised when you want to do something different.

The story of Addie starts in 1714, so it's a time when people will be born and die in the same place. In a place and time like that she wanted so much more. She wanted to dream, see the world, travel, and explore new things. She just didn’t want to settle down with a husband and have kids. She wanted more.

I do not want to marry. I do not want to belong to someone else. I do not want to belong to anyone but myself. I want to be free. Free to live, and to find my way, to love, or to be alone, but at least it is my choice, and I am so tired of not having choices, so scared of the years rushing past beneath my feet. I do not want to die as I’ve lived, which is no life at all.

Don’t most of us think that we don’t have enough time for all the things we want to do? The things we want to achieve, the books that we want to read, and places we want to travel. But so little time.

But when we are stuck in a life we didn’t want, we couldn’t change, it gets harder and harder to live. For Addie, it was like she was wasting her life away. Every day that went by, was a day she didn’t get to do what she wanted. When I read about the book, I thought that why do people deal away with their souls, even if something like this was real? But when you’re reading you feel what she was going through, I knew why.

She was growing older, and time went by, but she couldn’t do anything. She was going to be stuck in a marriage she never wanted. All because that’s what society expected her to do. Her wishes did not matter.

“They teach you growing up that you are only one thing at a time — angry, lonely, content — but he’s never found that to be true. He is a dozen things at once. He is lost and scared and grateful, he is sorry and happy and afraid.”

If we think about it, the expectations of society and the fear of judgement by people around us dictate how we will live our life. We all have thought at one point or other — What will the people think?

Even how we feel is judged. You can’t be too sad or angry. You need to control your feelings. We are taught to never show our weakness to others. Never show our sadness, anger, or fear. Be brave. Be strong.

If you are depressed why are you laughing? You’re not depressed you’re just sad. If you just stop overthinking, you’ll get better. It is all just in your mind. We’ve all heard this on so many occasions in our lives, even from the people who are close to us, people we share everything with, people we love.

Women — at least, women of a certain class — never venture forth alone, even during the day. They are kept inside like potted plants, tucked behind the curtains of their homes. And when they do go out, they go in groups, safe within the cages of each other’s company, and always in the light of day. To walk alone in the morning is a scandal, but to walk alone at night, is something else.
Freedom is a pair of trousers and a buttoned coat. A man’s tunic and a tricorne hat. If only she had known. The darkness claimed he’d given her freedom, but really, there is no such thing for a woman, not in a world where they are bound up inside their clothes, and sealed inside their homes, a world where only men are given leave to roam.
A woman must take responsibility for her own education, for no man truly will.

These are three different quotes, from three different parts of the book. They’re talking about a different era. But they’re all the same. Even in this day and age, these are true. I think the author said this so perfectly, I don’t need to say anything at all. Every woman will know this is true, no matter their age or the place they live.

In the end, I want to say just read the book already. It has so many emotions. So many topics were discussed so effortlessly. It was a great experience, one I wish I can have again for the first time.

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Content creator, Bookworm with a deep interest in psychology.

North Dakota State

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