The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
V. E. Schwab
Damn if this was not one of the best books I’ve ever read. Seriously. I was neck deep in a reading slump, struggling to stay afloat, and Addie LaRue gave me life.
Addie LaRue was born on March 10, 1691, in Villon, France. She was a wild child, a dreamer, and she was not satisfied with her life in Villon. She listened to stories from Estele, an older woman in her village, and realized that life was so much larger than her tiny town in France, where the villagers all seemed content to live their lives and die in the same spot for generations. When her parents decide to finally marry her off to a widowed man with children (she reached age 24, practically an old spinster in those times), she panics. She prays to any and all gods, hoping they would heed her prayers and keep her dreams alive. None answer, until she runs away the night of her wedding and in her desperation, she prays to have more time to live her life how she wants. There, a god answers after dark, and gives her what she asked for: to move through this life unburdened, unbound, free to spend her time as she wants until she is ready to surrender her soul to him. However, there is a catch: no one remembers her.
For three hundred years, Addie lives, moving from place to place, forgotten by those she meets instantly. Until she meets Henry, who remembers her. Addie is bewildered, and treasures the simple fact that Henry remembers. He can walk away, turn around, and still know who she is. Puzzled why Henry is the first person who can speak her name in three hundred years, Addie learns that Henry also made a deal with Luc, the same god who answered her desperate plea for more time. Though all deals come with a catch, and time is not in his favor.
I’m late to the table here, but it was well worth the wait. I did my due diligence and avoided all fan art and spoilers like the plague, and I’m so glad I did. Actually, I made the huge mistake of not preordering this book and when I went to order it after it released, it was SOLD OUT. Like everywhere. And every time I looked for it, I had the worst luck… until I finally reached victory. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is powerful. Everything from the beautifully styled writing to the poignant concept of time well spent hit me like a ton of bricks (in the best way possible). To be honest, this is my first taste of V.E. Schwab’s writing, even though I am a huge fan of her on Instagram, and now I’m frantically adding the rest of her novels to my TBR. Her style gave me huge classics vibes, and I LOVED every second of it. She spun Addie’s story down to the most intricate of details; the words on the pages folded around my introspective heart and had my head spinning. This might be an odd, niche description, but hear me out: the way she wrote tickled my brain. I think you’ll understand if you’re also an avid reader (which you all are, right besties?). I feel like cornering her and demanding how she was able to pull such personal thoughts of mine out of my head and express them better than I ever could in the most beautiful story, but I know the answer. She is a badass author. The amount of love I have for this book is incredible, and I am going to shove it down everyone’s throats if I get the chance. If you haven’t read it, beware: spoilers from here on.
There were certain parts of this book that hit me hard, the first one being when Addie starts to realize there is more to life than the small village where she lives with her parents. She makes the powerful realization that the villagers are content to live and die in the same spot, eventually buried in the same ten meter plot of land as their ancestors. That doesn’t sit well with her (tres relatable). Addie is a dreamer, desperate to get the hell out of dodge… and I would be lying if I said I didn’t deeply understand those feelings. The same thoughts have circulated my own mind about the town where I live. It got me thinking… would you? Would you make a deal for more time? Call me selfish… but I think I would. What I loved about this novel was how utterly real the feelings were; Addie’s desperation had my own heart racing and palms sweating. Her grief wrecked me in half when she tried to see her parents and Estele, only to find out they would never remember her again. Yet, for how terrible those feelings were, I love how Addie eventually embraced her freedom and she knew she would make the same decision again if she had the chance. It may have been to spite Luc, but she got to live. To see and experience so much. To move through a thousand different lifetimes. She wouldn’t deny that she was lonely… but a small, greedy part of me sings at the thought of living Addie’s life, deal and all. I guess that’s the point; how many times do you wistfully think there was something you could do, something you could be, but you always fall back on the same excuses? Time is a melancholy construct… and if you also find yourself wondering of deals made past dark, maybe this is a sign for all of us to live life for ourselves with the time we’ve got.
Henry. Sweet, sensitive Henry. At first, I was in love with him because Addie loved him… then, as I learned more about his back story, I realized parts of his life ran parallel to mine. As a fellow overly sensitive soul, I was gripped by his similar confusion about life. His fear of falling behind, of never being good enough. We stan an emotional king. However, his deal with Luc was so much more heartbreaking than Addie’s. Ugh. I literally knew his deal was so sus… if I was Addie, I would have asked him how long his deal was for immediately. I’ve read too many bittersweet novels to not be suspicious of a “too good to be true” storyline (think: The Fault in Our Stars, Deadline by Chris Crutcher — side note of a side note: I read this book in 2007 when it came out and it TRAUMATIZED me for life. It was so funny and heartfelt that I was convinced what happened wasn’t going to happen… if you have also been personally victimized by this novel, contact me. I need to know someone else read it. Maybe it wasn’t that good, and my twelve year old self was just extra sensitive… but it fucked me up. I actually think it was the first novel that ever made me cry… and I remember being shocked that I was sobbing while I read it. I digress.). Also, it was obvious Luc knew about Henry and Addie, even orchestrated their meeting… not surprised at all. Though, to be honest, I didn’t expect Addie to give in to Luc to spare Henry… I thought Henry would die and eventually she would go back to playing cat and mouse with Luc.
While I loved Henry and Addie, I think Addie and Luc were ultimately suited for each other… no matter how toxic they were. I think Henry and Addie needed each other in that moment… but Luc was low-key right when he pointed out to Addie that she really isn’t human after living for that long. Over the course of the book, as I felt Addie’s vibes towards Luc shift, I knew they would be together at the end. It might have been a little Stockholm Syndrome-ish for her to have feelings for him, but it just made sense. Though, I was very surprised that Addie did not go willingly without a trick of her own up her sleeve… and I don’t know how I feel about that. I was heartbroken over the fact that Addie gave up Henry for this life of revenge on Luc… on the other hand, I wouldn’t have expected anything more from her and Luc. They’ve played this game for three hundred years, what’s three hundred more? So, though I was in my feels about Henry, who deserves to be loved like Addie loved him, I think this story ended just right *chef’s kiss*.