BookBrowse Reviews The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

by Scott Stambach

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach X
The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2017, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


The story of one brave teenager's fight to live with daunting challenges demonstrates the sheer strength of the human spirit.

BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming story, with 21 out of 23 rating it four stars and higher.

Readers love Ivan — and his friend's — indomitable spirit

Ivan has been living in a children's hospital in Belarus all of his life because he was born with only nubs for feet, one arm with three fingers; he has no recollection of a mother or father; he survives in a wheelchair; and he is very smart. He is a Class A snoop. And then Polina arrives. She has cancer, but they form an unstoppable duo (Judy B).

They appreciated the memorable characters and vivid writing

I felt this book reads like a memoir rather than fiction. I will never forget Ivan for being determined, adventurous, intelligent, witty and loving. Both the characters and the setting were very real to me (Jean N). The author conveys the raw realities with dignity and the disobedient vitality of those often invisible to us. While there are teary episodes, it is the heartwarming moments and the "normalcy" of Ivan and Polina that shows the strength of humanity to make lemonade when given lemons. Kudos to the author for such an impressively rich and rewarding read (Beverly J).

It was inspiring to follow Ivan's story. He is the voice of this book. Highly intelligent, he strives to make more of his life beyond the limitations of the hospital and his own body. This is a story of survival, but also of compassion, cruelty and finally, love. The entire book is breathtaking for its story, characters and writing. The writing is amazing (Carole P).

Sensitive readers, take note...

I would like to warn readers of the foul language and sex that are included in this book. To some, this may be offensive (Patricia W). I recommend the book with the disclaimer that there are a few graphic sex scenes that might be offensive (Jean N).

A few readers found the novel to be difficult but rewarding

I found The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko a hard book to read. It has the social outrage of Dickens and the brooding introspection of Dostoevsky. But the characters are unforgettable, and the book is a reminder that humans are the most adaptable of animals (Mark O). If you can get past the underlying tragic lives, you will find humor, love, and humanity. Due to the underlying darkness, there is no way I can call this an enjoyable book, but the writing and insights into human behavior are exceptional (Valerie C).

Many reviewers found The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko to be exceptional

Stambach brings the grace of human nature to such a level that I found myself engrossed from page one. There are so many good novels just waiting to be read, that I rarely read one twice. I will make an exception with this novel. Stambach is that rare author that can capture the beauty of the human spirit in the most ugly of places and people. True genius! (Melissa S). How to describe this book? Amazing! Breathtaking! Inspiring ! Heartbreaking! (Carole P).

This review was originally published in August 2016, and has been updated for the August 2016 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Ladder to the Sky
    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne
    Of our 44 First Impression readers, 32 gave A Ladder to the Sky a four- or five-star review for an ...
  • Book Jacket: In Extremis
    In Extremis
    by Lindsey Hilsum
    International journalist Marie Colvin pushed the limits in her work and her personal life. Widely ...
  • Book Jacket: Vita Nostra
    Vita Nostra
    by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
    Vita Nostra by Ukrainian authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko is one of those novels that defies ...
  • Book Jacket: And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    And The Ocean Was Our Sky
    by Patrick Ness
    Patrick Ness has developed a reputation for experimental literature executed well, and his latest, ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.