Oh, yeah folks! This Throwback Thursday I'm featuring INVISIBLE LIFE by E. Lynn Harris. When I first read this one back in the mid 1990's, I thought that this book was SCANDALOUS! Now that I got that out of the way; INVISIBLE LIFE is also a thought provoking and emotional story. Running from your own truth of who you are is never easy or comfortable and the journey that Harris creates for Raymond was a difficult one. This one is most definitely an old school classic! If you read this one for the first time now, you have to remember that this is set in the 1980's and all that entails. More widespread and stringent homophobia, especially in the African American community. I'm not excusing Raymond's behavior, decisions, and deceptions; but I understand his reasons. Even the wrong ones.
Don't go into this one thinking that you are going to get the sexy equivalent of a James Baldwin story, because it's not. What Harris provided, for me anyway, is a story that reflected the times and difficulties of a generation of people who struggled to find an acceptable place for themselves. Harris shows the destruction that ripples out from one person to affect those that they genuinely care for. It's the good, the bad, and the ugly and it was a good ride! This is a trilogy, so the story does continue in the following books JUST AS I AM and ABIDE WITH ME.
Invisible Life is the story of a young man's coming of age. Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler's life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren't "right." He was completely committed to Sela, his longtime girlfriend, but his attraction to Kelvin, whom he had met during his last year in law school, had become more than just a friendship. No matter how much he tried to suppress them, his feelings were deeply sexual.
Fleeing to New York to escape both Sela and Kelvin, Raymond finds himself more confused than ever before. New relationships--both male and female--give him enormous pleasure but keep him from finding the inner peace and lasting love he so desperately desires. The horrible illness and death of a friend force Raymond, at last, to face the truth.