Ask a Bookseller: What does it mean to leave a mark on the world? 

Freya Shrestha of Old Harbor Books in Sitka, Alaska, can’t forget a novel called “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.”  

"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” by V. E. Schwab
"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” by V. E. Schwab
Courtesy of publisher

The book by V. E. Schwab is set in modern-day New York, but protagonist Addie LaRue is originally from 1700s’ France. In a moment of desperation, she inadvertently prays to and makes a deal with the devil, and he gives her freedom and immortality in exchange for her soul. But the one caveat that she is unaware of until after she makes the deal is that to obtain her freedom, everyone she interacts with will forget her as soon as she's out of their sight. So if a door closes between her and another person, they'll immediately forget her. She also can't leave any kind of a mark, so she can't write, she can't draw, and her image cannot be captured by photograph. She is reduced essentially to having an invisible life, but with it, she has incredible freedom. Over the 300 years since she's made the deal, no one has been able to remember her. Until one day, when she meets someone who can.

“I honestly couldn't get enough of the book,” says Shrestha. “I found myself torn between the urge to keep reading because it was so good and wanting to slow down and savor it.”

The plot jumps back and forth between modern day and flashbacks of Addie’s experiences and adventures, spanning across time in different countries and of her encounters with the devil, who initially was the only one who could remember her. Shrestha loves the complex and multi-faceted characters, and the shifting dynamic between them keeps the plot twisting. The book also poses an interesting philosophical question about worth and the value of leaving a mark on the world. 

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