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Invisible Me

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Invisible Me
Invisible Me
A Novel, by Tzipi Caton
A Targum Press Book, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-56871-533-9

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - February 4, 2010

Invisible Me is the story of Dini Braverman, a victim of selective mutism. This is a pyschological disorder where an individual with the ability to speak simply doesn't, or who will speak only to selective people. This can be due to severe shyness, embarrassment, or acute social anxiety (angst). In this case, Dini's mutism has been exacerbated by a past trauma, and she doesn't speak to anyone, not even to her parents.

Due to her mutism, fifteen-year-old Dini is the subject of ridicule from her peers, or more often than not, simply ignored by them. As well, she is considered disrubtive by her teachers who don't understand her condition, and even her siblings are unkind to her at times. Even worse, she's having problems getting along with her mother. Through it all, Dini wants to talk, she simply cannot seem to make herself make the words come out. Dini's only means of communiticating is by the written word. In Invisible Me we follow Dini primarily through the written notes she uses to communicate with, and through her thoughts. As the story opens, Dini is starting out at a new school, her third in one year. Her parents hope that this 'new start' will 'take' and she'll be accepted by her peers.

This novel was written by Tzipi Caton, the author of Miracle Ride. When Caton was sixteen, she developed Hodgkin's disease. In Miracle Ride, Caton candidly chronicled her own stuggle to overcome cancer, and how people reacted to her once they found that she had a health problem. I think that her own stuggles gave her deeper insights into how the fictional Dini must feel and to really sympathize with Dini's plight. Another author, who had not undergone such a trauma, may not have be able to convey these emotions in so tangible a manner as Caton does. As the story unfolds, things go from bad to worse for Dini when she is mistakenly accused of carrying out a prank. A prank that gets her expelled from school! How can she prove her innoncent when she cannot speak for herself?

Invisible Me is a powerful novel that really drives home the message that you cannot tell a book by its cover. Those around her think that Dini isn't speaking because she doesn't want to. Rather, she really wants to speak, she is just incapable of making herself speak due to the selective mutism that she suffers from. Will Dini be able to overcome her disability? How will people react to her if she starts to speak? What would you do if you met a person like Dini?

This book is a must read for both teenagers and adults, who will find this book both entertaining and informative. It is also a must read for educators, and other professionals who might at some point in their careers come across a child with selective mutism. This book will help you to learn a little bit about this often misunderstood disorder, and just how important your support can be in the child's recovery.


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