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The Visibles: Book summary and reviews of The Visibles by Sara Shepard

The Visibles

A Novel

by Sara Shepard

The Visibles by Sara Shepard X
The Visibles by Sara Shepard
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  • Published May 2009
    336 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

The only piece of information that Summer Davis takes away from her years at Peninsula Upper School - one of the finest in the Brooklyn Heights-to-Park Slope radius, to quote the promotional materials - is the concept that DNA defines who we are and forever ties us to our relatives.

A loner by circumstance, a social outcast by nature, and a witty and warm narrator of her own unimaginable chaos by happenstance, Summer hangs on to her interest in genetics like a life raft, in an adolescence marked by absence: her beautiful, aloof mother abandons the family without a trace; her father descends into mental illness, haunted by a lifelong burning secret and abetted by a series of letters that he writes to make sense of his feelings; her best friend Claire drifts out of Summer's life in a breeze of indifference, feigned on both sides; and her older brother fluctuates between irrational fury and unpredictable tenderness in an inaccessible world of his making.

Uncertain of her path and unbalanced by conflicting impulses toward hope and escape, Summer stays close to her father while attending college, taking him to electro-shock therapy treatments and trying to make sense of his inscrutable past. Upon his departure for a new and possibly recovered life, Summer begins to question the role of genetics and whether she is destined to live out her family's legacy of despair. But it is only when Summer decides to leave New York herself and put off a promising science career to take care of her great-aunt Stella -- bedrock of the family and bastion of folksy wisdom, irreverent insight, and Sinatra memorabilia in a less-than-scenic part of the Pennsylvanian countryside -- that Summer begins to learn that her biography doesn't have to define her...and that her future, like her DNA, belongs to her alone.

In a novel consumed by the uncertainties of science, the flaws of our parents, and enough loss and longing to line a highway, Sara Shepard is a penetrating chronicler of the adolescence we all carry into adulthood: how what happens to you as a kid never leaves you, how the fallibility of your parents can make you stronger, and how being right isn't as important as being wise. From the backwoods of Pennsylvania to the brownstones of Brooklyn Heights, The Visibles investigates the secrets of the past, and the hidden corners of our own hearts, to find out whether real happiness is a gift or a choice.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"It's complicated, rewarding and full of heart, and Shepard creates a rich reading experience in shying from simple answers and happy endings." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Outstanding first adult fiction by young adult novelist Shepard (of the "Pretty Little Liars" series)." - Library Journal

"A quietly captivating novel." - Kirkus Reviews

This information about The Visibles was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Sara Shepard Author Biography

Photo: Daniel Snyder

Sara Shepard (born April 8, 1977) graduated from New York University and has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She currently lives in Pittsburgh PA, with her husband and kids. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series, The Lying Game, The Heiresses, The Elizas, and The Perfectionists.

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