Invis­i­ble Me

Tzipi Caton
  • Review
By – September 9, 2011

In Invis­i­ble Me, Tzipi Caton brings to the fore selec­tive mutism, a severe anx­i­ety dis­or­der in which a per­son who is nor­mal­ly capa­ble of speech is unable to speak in giv­en sit­u­a­tions or to spe­cif­ic peo­ple. She con­veys the har­row­ing expe­ri­ence of being a selec­tive mute through her 16-year-old Jew­ish Ortho­dox pro­tag­o­nist, Dini Braverman. 

Dini com­mu­ni­cates by writ­ing notes, and through­out the nov­el we hear her voice and her thoughts through her note-writ­ing. A typ­i­cal teenag­er in every oth­er respect, we see Dini strug­gle with her famil­ial rela­tion­ships and her school tribu­la­tions. Her voice is clear and artic­u­late, and her strug­gles feel vivid and real. As the nov­el pro­gress­es, Dini begins to emerge from her clos­et­ed exis­tence, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her ther­a­pist after three years of bored silence and vent­ing the anger she feels at being treat­ed as an invis­i­ble per­son by virtue of her mutism. In the con­text of her Ortho­dox sur­round­ings, Dini’s lack of speech has ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the rest of her fam­i­ly. A shid­duch for her broth­er is com­pro­mised by what is regard­ed as her pecu­liar dis­or­der, and Dini con­stant­ly feels that she can­not live up to her mother’s expec­ta­tions and that her mutism casts a pall over the family’s oth­er­wise per­fect life. Invis­i­ble Me is a com­pelling read, both for teens and adults. It brings the teenage world into sharp clar­i­ty and gives selec­tive mutism a voice and a pres­ence. A tal­ent­ed writer, Caton brings Dini, her friends, and fam­i­ly to life with lit­er­ary flour­ish. For ages 12 and up. 

Lau­ren Kramer is a Van­cou­ver-based jour­nal­ist, wife, and moth­er with a life­long pas­sion for lit­er­a­ture. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writ­ing and report­ed from many cor­ners of the world. Read more of her work at www​.lau​renkramer​.net.

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