The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is, simply put, as if The Fault in Our Stars took place in a hospital/orphanage in Russia with mutant children.
Ivan was born a mutant–he has one arm, and nubs where his other arm and legs should be. His face droops and he has trouble speaking, and he’s been in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children for his entire life. Despite all his physical deformities, Ivan is very smart and observant. He reads nonstop and is very astute at observing the health of his fellow patients.
Ivan, with the encouragement of the caring Nurse Natalya, has decided to write his story. The story is an account of Ivan’s life, how he feels, who his fellow patients are, and various other observations, up to the point where he meets Polina, and ending a few days after her death. (Not a spoiler, this is found out in the first page!) She changes his life from the moment he hears she will be coming to Mazyr Hospital. And his life will never be the same afterwards.
Neither will my life be the same, to be honest. This book was heartbreaking, funny, introspective, and devastating. I tore through this one in two days and after the last page I was just profoundly sad–but in a good way, where you know you read something important.
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.