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“Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko has spent his entire life in a cloistered world, but he possesses a keen intellect and an understanding of humanity that far exceeds the confines of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Severely physically handicapped due to radiation poisoning, Ivan has never had a friend beyond his caregivers at the hospital -- until Polina is admitted. The two teens form a fast and indelible bond that will leave readers in awe of the tenacity of their commitment. Heartbreaking and awe-inspiring.”
— Pamela Klinger-Horn (E), Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
"The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko" is comic and staggeringly tragic, often both in a single sentence A grittier, Eastern European, more grown-up "The Fault in Our Stars."" Eowyn Ivey, author of "The Snow Child"
Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Born deformed, yet mentally keen with a frighteningly sharp wit, strong intellect, and a voracious appetite for books, Ivan is forced to interact with the world through the vivid prism of his mind. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan, which is why he turns everything into a game, manipulating people and events around him for his own amusement. That is until a new resident named Polina arrives at the hospital. At first, Ivan resents Polina. She steals his books. She challenges his routine. The nurses like her. She is exquisite. But soon, he cannot help being drawn to her and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. Before, he survived by being utterly detached from things and people. Now, Ivan wants something more: Ivan wants Polina to live.
"Ivan Isaenko "is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hilarious novel whose closest literary relative might be "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."..will appeal to any reader with a beating heart - a true gem. Nickolas Butler, author of "Shotgun Lovesongs.