Reader reviews and comments on The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, plus links to write your own review.

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

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There are currently 25 reader reviews for The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
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Power Reviewer
Beverly J. (Hoover, AL)

Heartfelt and Rewarding
I love when a book just touches my heart in unexpected ways. The narrator, Ivan Isaenko soars off the pages in this exquisitely written warm-hearted debut. Seventeen year-old Ivan has only lived in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus with severe physical disabilities and deformities due to being born shortly after Chernobyl disaster. Ivan has a smart brain, snarky attitude, and mischievous nature which allow him to survive the monotony of his life that is until 16 year-old Polina enters the hospital. The author conveys the raw realities with dignity and the disobedient vitality of those often invisible to us. While there are teary moments, it is the heartwarming moments and the "normalness" 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.
HoneyP

A human after all
This book brought to mind a photography exhibit I saw a few years ago of deformed and scarred people that permitted the viewer to stare and study in a way that we normally cannot. We see the workings of Ivan's mind in this well-written novel about a seventeen-year-old: his thoughts and emotions, his adolescent feelings, and even is falling in love. He is trapped in a severely deformed body in an asylum for mutant children in Belarus. There is a masterful combination of humor and tragedy.
Rory A. (Henderson, NV)

Deeply Affecting
A deeply affecting look into the life of one young man with a boundless spirit within the confines of so many boundaries. A surprise for summer reading, for sure, and most welcome.
Carole P. (Framingham, MA)

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
How to describe this book? Amazing! Breathtaking! Inspiring ! Heartbreaking!. Seventeen year old Ivan lives in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. He has lived there his entire life. Ivan and all the children who live there were born with severe birth defects. This is what is heartbreaking. It was painful to read about these children and their horrific birth defects. Heartbreaking to realize that out advancements caused them.
It was inspiring to follow Ivan's story. His 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. So it is a story of survival, but also a story of compassion, cruelty and finally, love. The entire book is breathtaking. For it's story, characters and writing. The writing is amazing. As difficult a read as this was, I could not stop reading. The writing and thus the story flowed. This is an exceptional book and all I can say is READ IT.
I know I gave the briefest synopsis, but really just read the book. True rating: exceptional.
Patricia S. (Yankton, SD)

The invisible made visible
The best summary of this book is the last paragraph of the epilogue which I won't quote here. To be brief, The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is a poignant story of life and love in the presence of death. Written much in the style of the Russian authors Ivan admires, and reminiscent of Gogol, Scott Stambach is the most promising new author I have read in a long time.
Patricia W. (Homewood, AL)

Lingers in your thoughts after you are finished reading
I have never read a book like this one before. Of course, the subject is different from what I usually choose, but I wanted to try it. Five stars to the author for an outstanding book.

Ivan Isaenko, while born with severe birth defects brought about from the nuclear reactor explosion in the Ukraine, is a very resilient character and with high intelligence. It is amazing to see what efforts he goes to overcome his many obstacles and how often he succeeds. At first the book is sad, but Ivan's spirit shows through and you begin to root for him to keep on, especially after he meets Polina. Their friendship (love) grows more and more and you are heartbroken when it comes to an end.

Memories of this book will remain with me for awhile. It drags up so many feelings and questions. I know the story is fiction, but I am sure there were children in these same situations in real life because the explosion did happen. Some of the characters seem to have no heart, but maybe that is the only way they can do their job for these children. Their indifference becomes a safety measure for themselves. Those who do have a heart shine very brightly and give you hope that not all is lost.

I would like to warn future readers of the foul language and sex that are included in this book. To some, it may be offensive.
Melissa S. (Rowland, NC)

Fiction?- No Way!
I must say, "The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko" is my new favorite novel. I am convinced Stambach will be an author Literature majors around the country will study for many years to come. The fact that Ivan is a fictional character blows my mind. Stambach brings the characters and the setting of The Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children to such a realistic realm, the reader has has a very hard time accepting this world is complete fiction. I found myself checking and double checking the copyright page to verify this work is indeed completely fictitious. Stambach brings the grace of human nature to such a level, I found myself engrossed from page one. There are so many good novels just waiting to be read, I rarely read one twice. I will make an exception with this novel. Stambach is that rare author that can capture the beauty in the human spirit in the most ugly of places and people. True genius!
Norman G. (Washougal, WA)

Thoroughly Satisfying
No critique, no comments, just an excellent, well-developed story that covers all the points leaving the reader feeling the time has been well-spent with original characters in a unique setting. Read the book and enjoy.

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