The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
What's it about?
Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko has lived in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children since birth. The Chernobyl disaster has left him physically deformed, but he has a razor sharp mind and a dark sense of humor. He has managed to exist in the hospital by reading voraciously, and turning everything into a game. His life is predictable until Polina shows up.....
What did it make me think about?
This book explored the tragic consequence of the Chernobyl disaster by putting a voice to it. Ivan's voice is filled with suffering, hope, love, and humor. This novel shines a light on the commonality of the human experience- no matter the circumstances. The humor made the book palatable, as is seen in this exchange between Ivan and his favorite nurse-
"How do we get there."
"A long time ago, Karl Benz invented the automobile."
" I knew that."
"Then why'd you ask?"
"I've never been in a car before."
"It's like being in your bed, Ivan. Only it moves."
"You're wittier than normal."
"I switched coffees. Now get dressed."
Should I read it?
This novel was so easy to read that sometimes I felt like it was a Young Adult novel. However the themes are as old as time. I thought this was a lovely book, but even the humor could not hide the deep sadness of Ivan's life.
"Then it occurred to me that it didn't matter because dying is the loneliest event in life. Polina could be surrounded by a village, each resident tending to a different need, each one reminding her of why she mattered, and she would still die alone. Because when it finally comes, you take the step into the black by yourself."
If you like this try-
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Haruki Murakami
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
some favorites of the last decade
best of winter 2020
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!