Sunday, July 19, 2015

Invisible Ellen; Shari Shattuck

Invisible Ellen; Shari Shattuck
Putnam - 2014

"Occasionally, though not very often, Ellen Homes would wonder how she gained two hundred seventy-three pounds and simultaneously disappeared.  Not that she necessarily need an answer, or even wanted one, because, simply put, being unseen was everything Ellen ever wanted.

Ellen leads a solitary life, by choice. The product of an abusive, neglectful mother, Ellen now lives on her own in a studio apartment with her cat. For entertainment she eats--a lot -- and she spies on her neighbors in the apartments across the way. She keeps detailed notes of their comings and goings - the drug seller, the pregnant girl, the neighbor who neglects their potted plants - it's all recorded in her journal.   Each evening she takes the bus to her nighttime cleaning crew job at Costco, where her slimeball boss is known to bully and harass some employees, but she likes the fact that she doesn't need to interact with many people there.

One day when a blind girl on the bus asks Ellen to tell her when they approach her bus stop, Ellen agrees. When some thugs then try to steal the blind girl's purse, something snaps and the "invisible Ellen" springs to life to help the young woman named Temeritry, and an unlikely friendship is forged.    She moves out of her comfort zone to accept a thank you dinner invitation from Temerity who she believes lives alone. She soon meets Justice, who lives with his sister and, like his sister, is very sweet and accepting of Ellen.

The story takes the reader on a sometimes sad and sometimes comical journey of Ellen - her childhood, her job at Costco and other antics which arise with her new friends, Definitely a character driven novel, it moving to see Ellen who initially sees herself as "invisible" slowly taking chances and putting herself out there.  At times the antics border on slap-stick, but it was ultimately a story that left me feeling happy, that our protagonist, Ellen, would be just fine.  

Loving stories with quirky characters, this story was a fun, quick read for me.  The author has a new book coming out in August called, Becoming Ellen, which I am anxious to try as well. 

4/5 stars
(sent by publisher)


  1. Ellen sounds like a fabulous character. I'm adding this book to my wish list.

  2. Oh, I like the looks of this one. I like quirky and know how putting on weight can mess with your psyche.

  3. Diane, Ellen sounds like a terrific character. I will look for this book.

    1. This would make for a great summer read for anyone looking for some light fun reading.

  4. I have Becoming Ellen on my reading stack.

  5. I am reading Becoming Ellen now. I did not realize until I started it that there was a prior book. It wasn't too hard to piece together what probably took place in the first book, but I'm happy to read an actual synopsis.

  6. Ellen sounds pretty interesting!

  7. I turned down Becoming Ellen b/c I wanted to read this one first and knew I wouldn't have time to get both in before the review should post :( But, I still love that first paragraph and may give it a shot on my own time.

  8. This sounds like a fun read. I'm glad to hear Ellen is coming out of her shell.

  9. Good for Ellen! I'd like to know more about her.


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