Atlanta author Zoe Fishman certainly knows about coping with trauma, which is the theme of her newest novel, “Invisible as Air.” While pitching the book to her publisher in 2017, Fishman’s husband of eight years, Ronen Shacham, died of a brain aneurysm, leaving her with two young sons. Then, while fine tuning the book earlier this year, her father died of heart failure.
The three characters in “Invisible as Air,” Fishman’s fifth novel, deal with their shared trauma over the loss of a child/sister in their own ways, mostly involving addictive or obsessive behavior.
Local readers, like myself, will empathize with this middle-class Jewish family as they struggle to find solace in the face of the death while practicing a number of Jewish rituals – a yahrzeit, a bar mitzvah – and going about their daily lives amidst 70-degree weather in February and Atlanta traffic. There are also mentions of popular local landmarks such as the Georgia Aquarium and Cumberland Island.
Even if we can’t relate to the death at the center of the trauma or some of the harmful behaviors the characters develop, we can feel the loss that pits parents against each other, suffering from a lack of communication that also alienates the surviving child. The three are looking for an escape from each other and the trauma, turning in to themselves, keeping their secrets, in essence to become “Invisible as Air,” like the missing relative whose memory constantly haunts them.
The chapters of the book alternate between the points of views of the characters, offering an interesting, individual perspective, while allowing us to relate to each one separately and together.
This book will be featured at 12 p.m. Nov. 5.