Thursday, July 21, 2016

"invisible-i-am by Gregg Davis" by Harriet Showman

invisible-i-am by Gregg Davis
by Harriet Showman

Harriet Showman's invisible-i-am by Gregg Davis is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

An experimental, literary YA multimedia narrative centered on the experiences of 16-year-old Gregg Davis, who undergoes brutal bullying and sexual violence by her peers. Spanning the mediums of the printed page, online social media and the screen, this story offers a wrenching, empathetic look at the experience of bullying through a victim's eyes, and then extends this theme of oppression, humiliation and violence to address issues of historical and systemic racism in the U.S. today.

Book Video
Listen to a reading of Chapter 2 of invisible-i-am by Gregg Davis.

Excerpt from Chapter 4
The advice began flowing later in the afternoon.
“I must say, Jack’s behavior disappointed me.” my grandmother seemed to be waiting for me when i wandered out to the wrap-around porch. She knew him from previous visits. “Are you glad your father arranged the confrontation?”
i settled into the rocking chair next to her.
“No. Yes. Sordid details. Mom dropping the charade of normalcy. The Fontaine angle still rocks me. But, my therapist says, a good life lesson. Maybe. Still can’t believe Jack dumped me. We were supposed to be together forever.”
“An illusion,” she offered.
“My heart was broken once.”
“Like anyone would dare,” i cracked, enjoying her company.
“Wouldn’t happen now.”
“Why? What's the secret?”
“Accepting the world as it is rather than as you want it to be.” The rocking chairs creaked as she paused to enjoy the Carolina spring. “It's all the same. You are loved. You are unloved. In the end, you have to be true to who you are. Men are peripheral. Pleasant to be sure. Needed for procreation and a balance in perspective. But who you are as a woman is separate from whether or not a man loves you.”
Never knew the true definition of profound before. Never looked at life from this perspective. Men, a luxury? An enhancement to life rather than central to existence?
“My point, Gregg,” she explained, “is men come and go. You get to choose which ones matter, who shares your nest and when. Remember. You choose.”
Not swept away by love unless we choose to go there? We get to pick who we bring close? That concept deserves consideration by all women. Vennie’s assertion, that we rule our emotions, not the other way around. The primordial infighting between women for the alpha male, an optional battle. i was not my relationship with Jack. i could let him go without losing me.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"I can’t think of a more compelling book for teen readers than invisible-i-am ... because it unpacks in real time the significance of bullying ... Showman’s art that evokes the passage of a bullied teen - from being erased by the hate of bullies to the articulate composition of a new self -teaches a lesson to students that goes beyond the walls of the classroom. It’s the most important education a child can receive: they need to learn that they are not scripted by what is said or done to them; they are the creators of their own destiny. They are the narrators of their own story." ~ Dr. Jennifer Fraser, author of Teaching Bullies (Motion Press, 2015)
"A brutal and fast-paced exploration of the psychological impact of bullying and sexual assault. The question Showman raises (will Gregg disappear or become something much bigger than she imagines) is a gripping one, and I look forward to reading more." ~ M Winn
"This book though it was an emotional read, I found that it was the perfect read for anyone who has ever been bullied ... " ~ Paula L. Phillips
"It's hard to put into words the emotion I felt while reading this book. I could not put it down. Harriet Showman reaches out with sensitivity and comfort in this very moving story of abuse and courage." ~ Suzie Knapp
"Read it in one day! Beautiful art work to go along with the dark (light at the end of tunnel) story that teens sometimes face in this cynical yet hopeful world." ~ Kathi Gambrell
"Read it twice! The cadence of the books voice is captivating. The story is one of heart and survival. It is a visceral, heart rending, and powerful story. What a powerful book." ~ aSa

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Gregg Davis is a sixteen-year-old girl who tells her story in a sarcastic, rambling fashion (full of parenthetical asides) in a journal, complete with illustrations depicting her changing moods. After Jack, her boyfriend and best friend, cheats on her with Hayley, Gregg becomes the victim of bullying at the hands of Hayley and her twin brother TJ. In the aftermath, Gregg struggles to cope with what happened to her. She changes her look, becomes socially isolated, and eventually becomes invisible.
The extent of Gregg's bullying is brutal, sickening, heartbreaking, and one of the hardest things I've ever had to read. However, I couldn't reconcile Gregg's apparent strength with her inability to stand up for herself. It was also disappointing to see most of her problems solved with relative ease by her wealthy family. Unfortunately, this book is trying to be and do too many things at once, and it doesn't quite succeed. What begins as a touching love story quickly devolves into a soap box diatribe against bullying and slavery. The abrupt ending indicates that there will probably be a follow-up book. Despite its flaws, this is an empowering book for young women, best read it in conjunction with Gregg's art journal on the invisible-i-am website.
Warnings: graphic bullying, coarse language, sexual references.

About the Author
Harriet Showman is an author and multimedia artist born in South Carolina and raised in Pennsylvania. She returned to South Carolina for university and lives there today. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in colonial South Carolina history and has spent much of her life helping children and young adults succeed amidst challenging circumstances, including poverty and abuse. With a strong core of allies, Showman helped to establish a statewide Guardian ad Litem program to provide legal support for abused children; a Cities in Schools organization to serve underprivileged students; and a vehicle for the accumulation of monies to be distributed in grants through the Children’s Trust Fund. As a development officer for South Carolina’s flagship university, Showman attracted resources from major, national foundations to target South Carolina’s most urgent needs. She remains interested in the plight of children, teens and adults who suffer abuse, oppression and the paralyzing pain of invisibility.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a signed art print of an image from Harriet Showman's invisible-i-am by Gregg Davis (US/Canada only).