What The World Doesn’t See by Mel Darbon, reviewed by Farrah (16) 

Maudie and Jake’s family is falling apart, with their mum struggling with her grief after the passing of their dad. One night she vanishes with only a note left behind, and no news of her whereabouts. When their aunt puts Jake in care, Maudie goes to desperate lengths to try to reunite her family, and she kidnaps Jake, taking him with her to Cornwall, hoping that when her Mum learns of the current situation, she will return.

“…a bond between brother and sister that is so beautiful and raw that it is almost tangible.”

Farrah (16)

What unfolds is a powerful and moving tale of grief, healing, finding oneself, first love and familial bonds. 

‘What The World Doesn’t See’ is a book that will stick with you long after you turn the last page, with very well written autism representation, and a bond between brother and sister that is so beautiful and raw that it is almost tangible.

The author Mel Darbon explains in the author’s note that she wrote from a very personal experience of having a sibling on the autism spectrum. Darbon highlights that whilst Jake’s experience (as well as that of her own brother’s) does not speak for the experience of everyone with autism, the novel clearly displays common obstacles faced by those like Jake, stemming predominately from people’s ignorance. Darbon’s writing, especially when we get to read from Jake’s point of view (since the story is told in dual narrative, allowing us to see life through the eyes of both Maudie and Jake) was very impactful. 

Ultimately, this book follows the physical and emotional journey of Maudie and Jake (and their mother), as they navigate their way through grief and towards healing, as well as the relationship between the siblings evolving as Maudie recognises what Jake is capable of, and allows him more freedom and opportunity to express his own independence.