If You Could See the Sun
by Ann Liang
Released on October 11th, 2022
Published by Inkyard Press
Young Adult Fiction—Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy > Magical Realism
Alice Sun has always felt invisible at her elite Beijing international boarding school, where she’s the only scholarship student among China’s most rich and influential teens. But then she starts uncontrollably turning invisible—actually invisible.
When her parents drop the news that they can no longer afford her tuition, even with the scholarship, Alice hatches a plan to monetize her strange new power—she’ll discover the scandalous secrets her classmates want to know, for a price.
But as the tasks escalate from petty scandals to actual crimes, Alice must decide if it’s worth losing her conscience—or even her life.
In this genre-bending YA debut, a Chinese American girl monetizes her strange new invisibility powers by discovering and selling her wealthy classmates’ most scandalous secrets.
Trigger/Content Warning(s): Kidnapping, Classism, Hate Crime, Racism, Confinement, Infidelity, Child Abuse, Toxic Relationship, Fatphobia, Alcohol
Disclaimer: I was provided a digital galley via Edelweiss+ for the purpose of reviewing. This does not affect my opinion.
If You Could See the Sun is a heart-wielding, gripping story with a fun Macbeth twist. Thought-provoking from start to finish, I could not pull myself away from this masterpiece.
Ann Liang set the scene with a fun, rivals-to-lovers premise. Alice was an in-your-face, relatable main character. Liang made it possible to take in each emotion, thought and feeling that Alice experienced, with explanations told and shown for her decisions and choices. Her relationship with Henry was one I thoroughly enjoyed seeing, as the development spanned throughout the story and was well-built and expanded upon.
Overall, Liang has beautiful character development. Each side character had well-done growth and an audible voice that came across on-page–similar to that of the main character, but without taking away from them. Seeing that the side characters were given just as much time and attentiveness was good to see and welcomed.
The plot of this book had several twists and turns, some you could predict and others you could not. Alice turning invisible–or going “ghost”–was a fairly exciting storyline, and I did like the discussions had on the morals and ethics of having an app that allows people to make requests of a “ghost” to get things done (such as deleting nude images, among other things). However, I do wish Liang had expanded upon Alice’s abilities. I do not feel as though it was well put together on why she was able to turn invisible, and I do think that slightly took away from the overall story because of it. But past that, I do think the rest of the story was well executed and thoughtfully written with particular themes and messages in mind.
To continue, I do believe Liang has a wonderful and invigorating writing style. With prose, occasional flowery writing, and the talent to portray teens as teens, I found it difficult to have to put this book down at all! Once your eyes are attached to the words, you will find yourself wanting to continue each page at once because of how addicting the book became.
Overall, I loved If You Could See the Sun. I did not go into this book with any expectations, and yet, it found a way to exceed even my basic thoughts and carve itself a place in my mind and favorites list. For that, I give this book a starred rating. I look forward to whatever Ann Liang might have planned for us next and will be eagerly awaiting it.
Ann Liang is an undergraduate at the University of Melbourne. Born in Beijing, she grew up travelling back and forth between China and Australia, but somehow ended up with an American accent. When she isn’t stressing out over her college assignments or writing, she can be found making over-ambitious to-do lists, binge-watching dramas, and having profound conversations with her pet labradoodle about who’s a good dog.