“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Those are the final three words of Anyta Sunday’s wondrous (In)visible and to be perfectly honest, there are no three words I could come up with that would better sum up all that this book was for me. Part coming-of-age story, part fairy tale, part fantasy, part love story, this novel is so much more than I’d expected it would be when I began reading. It is a journey of self-discovery for two young men, filled with all the teenage angst of awakening sexuality, first love, the first kiss, and the bitterness of loss when fate and misfortune burden Rune and Scott with the curse of witnessing the harshest realities of the world around them, all too soon.
From the opening paragraphs of this book, as Rune stands at the edge of a river, contemplating yet another attempt at ending his own life—as he’s done every year for the past three years—the mystery and the need to unravel the tangled threads of his affliction begins. Rune is invisible, you see, which I’d mistakenly believed to be a metaphor for a lost child who’d been overlooked, ignored, dismissed, and become dispensable, but it soon became very clear that I was wrong. No, Rune is not the unseen; he is quite literally the invisible, a curse handed down to him by his mother, and one that figures prominently into every aspect of this narrative. Rune is the personification of magic and mystery and it didn’t take but a few sentences for him to cast his spell on me.
It was a fateful but fortunate accident that Rune and Scott met at the edge of that river. It was also a fortunate twist of fate that somehow Scott could see Rune. Though Rune is able to will himself visible when he wants to, Scott, whether it was with his eyes or his heart, could see through the aura that shields Rune from others. Why? Well, that’s never spelled out for the reader, which is probably as it should be because sometimes there are no concrete answers to all the mysteries of the universe; some things must be accepted solely on faith.
Three years of running from a horrific and life-altering event that would reshape the pattern of Rune’s already tormented existence, ends when Scott invites Rune into his life and offers him sanctuary from the loneliness of his invisibility. They form a friendship made all the more significant by its rarity, as their bond is one that is not shared with anyone but the two of them, and it is a bond that, in the awkwardness and anxiety of the growing sexual awareness of two fourteen-year-old boys, blossoms into a sweet and innocent first love.
Until tragedy intrudes upon the idyllic summer the boy shared, and the past comes back to torture Rune in one horrific and misunderstood event, forcing him to sacrifice his own happiness as the only option to protect Scott from the contamination of Rune’s affliction.
For four years, Scott lived with the notion that Rune hadn’t loved him enough to stay and see him through the single defining moment of his young life—the death of his father, Scott’s misguided guilt over his culpability in that tragic event, and the subsequent decline of his mother’s fragile grasp on her sanity. Those four long years were spent with the knowledge that a boy whose entire world fit into a single small bag that was always packed, always with him, and kept him ready to run on a moment’s notice had abandoned Scott without a single word of explanation. What Scott didn’t know was that Rune was never far away and when, by chance, they meet again, all the pain and heartbreak Scott endured may be too much for all the love Rune feels for him to overcome, a love which, upon reflection, is the light that guides Scott, the light that embraces him and finally enables him to see himself as worthy of all Rune has to offer.
Nowhere was it ever promised that this would be an easy journey, and it wasn’t. In fact, I had myself fully prepared for a tragic ending, tissues at the ready, which is why I forced myself to sit on my opinion of this book for a couple of days. Oddly enough, I felt a bit disappointed when it ended happily. But what initially felt anticlimactic to me after the emotional tug-of-war of the entire book, was really more a misperception on my part of what this story wasn’t—or maybe what it was—which is, at its heart, a fairy tale love story in which the magic of love overcomes a curse and binds two young men together in a happily-ever-after. Exactly what a fairy tale is supposed to do.
Anyta Sunday has authored a fully unique and fantastical story constructed around two characters with whom I instantly and irrevocably fell in love. I read all two-hundred-nine pages of this book in a single sitting, absorbed every beautiful word of it, which is maybe the best compliment I can pay to it.
*(In)visible appears to be available only in Kindle format and can purchased HERE.*