The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (Draft)

Click "here" to open new page link to Amazon.

I know people who don't read the back of the book before they start, but it seems this author assumes that you do, and I think you will be frustrated and miss all the allusions if you don't.  The book opens with a quote from a fictional person whom Addie remembers in the Prologue (LP Pg. 9) however, it is unclear exactly who Estele is.  The story starts a bit like Runaway Bride with a bit of Black Cake mixed in - a young girl bolts from her wedding.

This book had been on my want to read list so I was glad when my friend chose it for book club.  Because of Easter and Mother's Day adjustments, however, we had a shorter time frame than the normal month to read the book, and it was quite long.  I really had to keep after it and wound up using the audio book, eBook and Large Print book as well.  In the beginning, it was a little slow.  The story bounced back and forth between Addie in the past and Henry in the present with no connection.  But then, in Part 3, Ch. VIII, ePg. 135, the three words that changed Addie's life, "I remember you", changed my interest level and got me hooked.  And then, when I was 75% done, 4 days before book club, I started to feel like I didn't want to finish it because then it would be over and I've been enjoying the company of Addie and Henry.  Parts of the book, (ref. Part 6, Ch. IX, ePg. 397) reminded me of a show called "Lucifer" which I enjoyed watching on TV, regarding the devil in human form and how he interacted with other humans and learned to care and there was one human who was somewhat impervious to him.  Other parts of the story borrow from "Beauty and the Beast". (ref. Part 6, Ch. XIV, ePg. 411)

There is definitely a need to suspend reality and/or not overthink things in order to fully enjoy the story.  I sometimes got twisted up trying to understand the parameters of the deals and curses and wound up thinking myself in circles, for example, Henry feels seen by the invisible girl who wants to be seen/remembered and she is enough for him, who wants to be enough for others, even though she doesn't have a phone or a home.

On a scale of 1 - 5:

Sex:  3

Religion:  3

Gruesome: 1

Suspense:  3

Morality:  3

Traditional: 4 (a high number of instances of things that you'd need to consider because they raise issues about traditional values)

Sex - Minor details of what Addie did between Sam's legs. (Part 2, LP Pg. 176)  An imagined scene in a prostitute's mind. (Part 2, LP Pg. 194) A reference to a sex club (Part 3, Ch. X, ePg. 211), "Sex has only ever been a burden, a necessity of circumstance, some required currency...up until now...+ scene (Part 4, Ch. IV, ePg. 180), in an apartment after being caught in the rain (Part 4, Ch. V, ePg. 188), a reference to a three-some (Part 4, Ch. VII, ePg. 255)

Religion - Part 1, Ch. IV opens with Addie reflecting on local church.  Addie and Estelle discuss praying to gods.  Passing reference to the schedule for Passover. (Part 2, Ch. V, LP Pg. 213) "the devout, they try to save her soul, as if she hasn't already sold it. She has said yes to the church, ..., but only for the shelter, and never the salvation." (Part 2, Ch. VII, LP Pg. 234) References to the devil. (ex. Part 3, Ch. III, ePg. 109) " 'My parents were believers,' she muses, her fingers trailing over the pews. 'They always spok of God. Of His* strength, His mercy, His light. They said He was everywhere, in everything.' Addie stops before the altar.  scene continues with much more (Part 5, Ch. III, ePg. 311) *on a personal note, I am thrilled that they capitalized His and He when referencing God as I've noticed this reverence is falling away along with the two spaces after a period.  Comparison between a speak easie and a place to worship and pray. (Part 5, Ch. III, ePg. 373)  "for the tirst time in centuries, Addie prays." (Part 5, Ch. Vii, ePg. 387)

Gruesome - Addie is buried under a pile of bodies. (Part 2, end Ch. III, LP Pg. 199)

Suspense - Who did she flee from in New Orleans? (Part 1, Ch. 2, LP Pg. 28)  Why is the wooden ring always warm, and why can't she get rid of it? Estele seems like the catalyst, but the ring was from her dad. (LP Pg. 56) What would happen if she put the ring on?  Why doesn't Henry's watch tell time? (end Part 2, Ch. V)  What will happen when Addie goes to the party with Henry? 

Morality - Addie steals clothes and food and trespasses on a regular basis because, while she cannot leave a mark, "successful theft is an anonymous act.  The absence of a mark." (Ch. XIV, ePg. 71)  It was the way she survived because she couldn't hold a job or rent an apartment.  Once Henry is cursed, he has to struggle with the sincerity of having a relationship with someone because he knows they are only attracted to him because of the curse. (Part 2, Ch. I, ePg. 97)  Frequent references to Henry's sister handing out little pink pills. People smoke a joint. (Part 4, Ch. X, ePg. 265)

Traditional - Addie has been with many men and some women. (LP Pg. 19) a man starts flirting with a woman and then admits he is gay. (Part 1, Ch. XII, ePg. 60) The narrator lets us know that two different characters have been in love with both men and women. (Part 2, Ch. 1, ePg. 94) Addie remembers an affair with Sam, whom we soon learn is a female (Samantha). (Part 2, Ch. II) A man puts the moves on another man. (Part 4, Ch. XIII, ePg. 276)  Reference to pot. (Part 4, Ch. XVII, ePg. 288) "he's attracted to a person first and their gender second."  (Part 4, Ch. XII, LP Pg. 481)

The author seems fond of the word "palimpsest" which I have heard of but didn't have a clear definition fixed in my head.  Since I usually read without wifi, I couldn't look it up easily.  Now that I see the definition, it makes sense, but I wish there would have been some context in the story to better define it at the time, because it just got kind of annoying that the word was repeated with no clue. (ref. Part 1, Ch. XVI, ePg. 78; Part 3, Ch. II, ePg. 173; Ch. IV, ePg. 181; Ch. VII, ePg. 194; Part 5, Ch. VII, ePg. 326; Ch. XII ePg. 346)

She also did the same with the word "fae", using it three times between parts two and three and then never again in the book.  Wikipedia explains it is a type of fairy.

Discussion Questions

Adeline prayed that Arnaud would find another girl.  Instead, he died.  She felt simultaneously bad and relieved.  (Part 1, Ch. V, LP Pg. 45)  Have you ever been surprised by an answer to prayer?

"You discover what you can and cannot be without, the simple necessities and small joys that define a life.  Not food, not shelter, not the basic things a body needs - those are, for her, a luxury - but the things that keep you sane. That bring you joy. That make life bearable." (Part 1, Ch. VI, LP Pg. 51) Addie's answer is art, all forms. (ref. LP Pg. 52)  What are yours?

Addie thought she had "her father's eyes, her mother's chin, one's brow and the other's lips" (Part 1, Ch. X, ePg. 49)  Do you look like your parents?

"Of all the inventions Addie has seen ushered into the world - ...electric lights...and airplanes, and computers and movies might just be her favorite one." What is your favorite invention?

Henry worked at "The Last Word", a used bookstore. (Ch. XVII, ePg. 84)  What would you name a used bookstore?

Addie could not get rid of the wooden ring, even when she changed clothes - it followed her. (ref. Part 1, Ch. XII, ePg. 61)  "She...resists the urge to slip the band onto her finger."  What would have happened if she put it on her finger?  What was the significance of the ring?

"Henry would rather be a storykeeper than a storyteller." (Part 2, Ch. 1, ePg. 92)  Which would you rather be?

What were your theories about Henry and any special abilities he might have had?

Discuss:  "How can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?  It's like that Zen koan, the one aobut the tree falling in the woods." (Part 3, Ch. II, ePg. 103)

Even after Addie lost the bird, she kept reaching for it.  (Part 3, Ch. III, ePg. 113) What is something you lost but still kept reaching for?

Sam thought people are not like snowflakes but, instead, like skies, cloudy, stormy, clear, etc. but never the same. (Part 3, Ch. Vi, ePg. 124)  Do you agree with her or do you have an analogy of your own to share?

For a while, Addie tries to dress like a man, but eventually realizes that "the men in Paris are soft, even pretty, but they are still men." (Part 3, Ch. VII, ePg. 130)  How does this scene contrast with the bisexuality of Addie and of Henry?

Addie does not think her name fits her. (Part 4, Ch. I, ePg. 166) Does your name suit you?

Continue Addie and Remy's discussion: Small places make for small lives.  And some people are fine with that.  They like knowing where to put their feet.  But if you only walk in other people's steps, you cannot make your own way.  You cannot leave a mark....Do you think a life has any value if one doesn't leave some mark upon the world? (Part 4, Ch. IV, ePg. 179)

Henry says, "Everyone thinks photography is truth, but it's just a very convincing lie." (Part 4, Ch. IV, ePg. 239)   What do you think photography is?

Did it surprise you that the tree Addie transplanted in the cemetery took root?  (Part 5, Ch. XI, ePg. 339)

Luc tells Addie, "happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end, everyone wants to be remembered".  Is being remembered important to you?

Henry's watch symbolizes a reminder that his time is short. (Part 5, Ch. IV, ePg. 378)  What did Addie's ring symbolize?

If Addie's curse doesn't work with Henry and he CAN remember her, then his curse should not work with her and he should not be "enough" for her - but he is; she has no complaints about him.  Can you reconcile the effects of the curses?
"I made a deal with the devil and now whenever anyone looks at me, they see only what they want." (LP Pg. 459)
What Addie wants is someone to remember her, and Henry does.  What Henry wants is someone to see and love him as he is.  Does Addie?  If you were going to sell your soul, what would you trade it for?

"Belief is a bit like gravity.  Enough people believe a thing, and it becomes as solid and real as the ground beneath your feet.  But when you're the only one holding on to an idea, a memory, a girl, it's hard to keep it from floating away." (Part 7, Ch. II, ePg. 437)  Are there any memories that only you know?  How do you hold onto them?

Theme Ideas

Serve chocolate-chip muffins, like Addie gave Fred, the book guy. (Part 1, Ch. XI, ePg. 55)
Serve champagne, like Addie orders instead of rose or whiskey in the bar in her daydream. (Part 1, Ch. XI, ePg. 55)  In the same scene, Toby orders Jack and Coke. (ePg. 56)
Serve blueberry muffins like Addie got from Mel & Maggie. (LP Pg. 57)
Serve the elements of Addie's "makeshift picnic" like she had in James' apartment: merlot, Gruyere and gourmet crackers. (Part 1, Ch. XII, ePg. 58)
Serve ice cream, like she ate with James. (Part 1, Ch. XII, ePg. 59)
Soon after Addie's deal, she ate fruit.  (Ch. XIV, ePg. 70)  Serve peaches, pears and mirabelles.
Serve grilled cheese like Addie remembered eating with James, standing up in the kitchen because he had no chairs in his new apartment. (Part 1, Ch. 15)
Serve chocolate roses, since Robbie didn't want to choose between chocolates and flowers. (Part 2, Ch. I, ePg. 95)
When Luc visited Addie at the Marquis' house, they had champagne, "cream soup the pale orange of dawn", fish and "pastry-crusted beef" (in Paris, in 1719) (Part 2, Ch. X, LP Pg. 326)
On the fourth anniversary of not seeing Luc, Addie was going to climb u pSacre Coeur and eat bread, cured meat, a wedge of cheese and honey. (Part 3, Ch. I, LP Pg. 293)
On Henry and Addie's second date they went to a food park and ate fries, falafel, dumplings and gyros. (Part 3, Ch. VIII, LP Pg. 358)
Addie takes Henry to a French bakery that serves apple tarts, operas dusted with cocoa, "petit fours coated in marzipan and small, piped roses". (Part 3, Ch. VIII, LP Pg. 361)
Serve lasagna, salad, garlic bread and wine like Bea served at the dinner party. (Part 3, Ch. VIII)
Serve chocolate because Addie discovered it in 1719 and became quite a fan. (Part 3, Ch. X, ePg. 142)
In 1720 Addie was prepared to celebrate the anniversary with warm bread, cheese, pork terrine and a bottle of red wine served on porcelain plates and glass glasses. (Part 3, Ch. XIII, ePg. 156)
Serve coffee because Addie remembered her first taste of it on July 29, 1724 in Paris. (Part 4, Ch. 1, ePg. 165)  Also serve the food Addie had in her basket when she met Remy: bread, cured meat, cheese and honey. (ePg. 164)
Serve gin fizzes, like Addie ordered in the speakeasie in 1928 and champagne with a candied rose petal in each glass, like Luc sent her. (Part 5, Ch. III, ePg. 372)
Replicate the menu from Luc and Addie's date to discuss a bargain for Henry: foie gras with cherries and rabbit terrine.  Halibut in beurre blanc, and fresh- baked bread, and half a dozen kinds of cheese. (Part 6, Ch. XI, ePg. 401)

Meet in a museum, because Addie loved them. (ref. Part 1, Ch. XV, ePg. 77)
Meet in a food truck park like Henry and Addie's second date. (Part 3, Ch. VIII, LP Pg. 358)  

Decorate with a copy of "The Odyssey", like Addie read. (Part 3, Ch. VI, ePg. 126)
Decorate with a print of Rodin's Gates of Hell like on the elevator Luc took Addie on towards the end of the book. (Part 6, Ch. XIII, LP Pg. 717)