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(In)visible (71) (World Prose) de Ivan…
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(In)visible (71) (World Prose) (edição: 2022)

de Ivan Baĭdak (Autor)

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Diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome as a teenager, Adam, now a 26-year-old freelance designer, attends his first meeting at a social support group. Here he meets Anna, a charity worker with a face hemangioma, Marta a TV anchor with alopecia, and Eva a make up artist with vitiligo. The following week he moves in with them. Shaped after the writer's own experience of living with Tourette's syndrome, Adam tries to move from self-inflicted invisibility to being visible--in his family, career, and personal life. Invisible is a book about what it means to be different. A book that encourages acceptance and tolerance. A book about fear and escape, about the necessity of being loved and accepted. It's about the permanent struggle with your complexes and attempts to start loving yourself. It's about hard stories. But also about big hearts.… (mais)
Membro:Kobzar
Título:(In)visible (71) (World Prose)
Autores:Ivan Baĭdak (Autor)
Informação:Guernica World Editions (2022), Edition: Translation, 150 pages
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(In)visible (71) (World Prose) de Ivan Baĭdak

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Originally posted on Just Geeking by.

I reviewed this book as part of GeekDis 2022 an event discussing disability representation in pop culture from the perspective of the disabled and neurodivergent community.

Content warnings:
This book contains multiple scenes of ableism, prejudice, bullying, and verbal and emotional abuse. The book is based around a support group with multiple scenes set in the support group. Suicide takes place on page (it is not described in great detail) and the character later talks with a private therapist about still wanting to attempt suicide (with details).

(In)Visible by Ivan Baidak starts with a scene at a family dinner where a young Adam is berated by his father for his tics. He has Tourtette’s Syndrome, and despite his father demanding that he just stop, he can’t. Cut to sometime in the future and Adam introduces himself as a graphic designer, he’s now twenty-six, he loves watching TV, and he hates shopping. He informs us he has Tourtette’s Syndrome.

There’s a short break before the book begins as the author introduces himself as Ivan and as having Tourtette’s Syndrome. He talks about when he first realised he was different and explains that Adam’s story is not his own, it’s not a story of his own life, however, “there’s a lot of truth in it” he points out. He also emphasises that this book is not about negative things and describes it as a “silent coming to terms with my own lived experience”.

I liked the author’s note being at the start of the book, and it’s placement after the “prologue” (it’s not given a title, but that is what it feels like to me) fits nicely with the flow of the book. (In)Visible is a book of stories, told through four different narratives as Adam, Anna, Marta, and Eva tell us about their conditions and their lives. It’s centred around a support group for “people with challenges”, that’s where Adam meets Anna who invites him to move in with her and Marta, someone she also met at a support meeting. Eva is another member of their support group who lives nearby who they become friends with.

The book goes through each character’s narrative, continuing with Adam’s as he tells us his story. He talks about how Tourtette’s Syndrome effected his life, how it prevented him from finding a job and effected his relationship with his father. He also introduces us to his friends and talks more about the support group.

The four narratives are spread out between Adam’s chapters. For the most part his narrative remains in the present, taking us through their support group meetings, talking about their friendship and related events such as Eva’s photo exhibit. He keeps everything tied together, and in the chapters in between his friends tell their stories. First is Eva who developed vitiligo at eight years old, then Marta a presenter who has alopecia and then Anna who has a haemangioma, a benign tumour, on her cheek which can not be surgically removed because a carotid artery runs directly through it.

Each of their narratives are different, unique, and yet tell similar stories. They are about learning to accept their illnesses, how their bodies are and dealing with how people react to their appearances, to their differences. They all have that moment when they realise that they are different, but they also have that moment when they find support, friendship and themselves.

The book starts with the beginning of their support group and ends with it. The four characters are all very different people by the time the group has ended. It’s not completely due to the support group though, and the reason why I’ve not given this a five-star rating is that I felt some of the messages from the support group were particularly toxic. At one point the group therapist, David, tells the group that they need not be so hard on others because they might need “more time to get used to you”. As a disabled person I felt extremely angered by that, and while Eva shared that response, I felt that Adam’s response to it was particularly condescending. He mentions that this “ruffled Eva’s feelings” and although he shares what Eva has to say about it, he offers no response himself.

I found the wording of the support group being for “people with challenges” to be odd. However, I recognised that this may be due to a difference in languages and cultures as there are translators listed at the end of the book.

It’s difficult for me to put into words how emotive (In)visible was for me to read. While I identify as multi-disabled, all of my seven chronic health conditions are non-visible. Yet I’ve had someone stand and yell “diseased” at me like some of the characters of (In)visible. My heart broke so many times reading this book, and at the level of ignorance that I knew was not fiction. I’m very grateful to Baidak for writing this novel, for writing about his experience of Tourtette’s Syndrome as I know a young woman who has it. We need more books with disability representation full stop, but after what happened earlier this year at the Oscars I’m very glad to see alopecia representation in a book.

(In)visible is a great read that fits so much into such a short space, which makes it wonderfully accessible too!

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Diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome as a teenager, Adam, now a 26-year-old freelance designer, attends his first meeting at a social support group. Here he meets Anna, a charity worker with a face hemangioma, Marta a TV anchor with alopecia, and Eva a make up artist with vitiligo. The following week he moves in with them. Shaped after the writer's own experience of living with Tourette's syndrome, Adam tries to move from self-inflicted invisibility to being visible--in his family, career, and personal life. Invisible is a book about what it means to be different. A book that encourages acceptance and tolerance. A book about fear and escape, about the necessity of being loved and accepted. It's about the permanent struggle with your complexes and attempts to start loving yourself. It's about hard stories. But also about big hearts.

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