This months book club read was The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach. This book is the story of Ivan, a severely physically handicapped boy who has lived his entire life in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill children in Belarus. Orphaned at birth, because of his condition, Ivan grows up in the hospital with no real friends besides one of the nurses, Natalya. His life and world are altered when a beautiful girl, Polina, who has terminal leukemia moves into the hospital.
This book was a rough one for me to get through. Not because it’s a bad story, or it’s poorly written. Quite the opposite actually. It is written in such a way that is very real and raw. From the beginning this book feels like a true story, written by Ivan and he doesn’t leave much to the imagination or gloss over anything. Even though at times it was quite disturbing in detail, I felt my heart go out to Ivan, and later to Polina who doesn’t have much time to live.
Before Polina arrives, Ivan’s one passion is reading. His only friend, nurse Natalya, brings Ivan classics to read and he devours them. For this shoot I decided to bring along my favorite classics from my collection. I chose, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and of course Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. ( Emma is my true favorite by Jane Austin, but I couldn’t find my copy!)
Even though the book was set in 2005, to me it felt like a much earlier time because of how Ivan described his hospital home. The treatment of the children by the nurses and doctor, as well as the actual medical treatments described seemed very outdated. I know unfortunately mistreatment still occurs in today’s hospitals, it doesn’t seem like it would be to the extent described in the book.
I chose this dress because, like the books Ivan reads, it is a classic. It is true vintage that I found in a consignment shop and I fell completely in love with it. It has such a beautiful, classic 1950’s look and style. This is my first time wearing it and it is without a doubt my favorite true vintage dress that I own.
The lace detail on the sleeves and collar is gorgeously speckled with rhinestones and pearls, and guess what?? Yep, pockets! I paired it with these thrifted kid leather gloves, and thrifted purse. A vintage hat completes this classic 1950’s look.
The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, is a very sad story, with a lot of potential triggers. It also contains some pretty graphic sexual content, that did put me off. Overall, I would not recommend this book for those reasons. I did however, appreciate the way Ivan grew and transformed as an individual through his love for Polina.
What are you reading this month?? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!