Monday, May 21, 2007

Things Not Seen

Book: Things Not Seen
Author: Andrew Clements
Published: 2002

Have you ever felt like you were invisible?

Like a lot of teens, Bobby knows that feeling very well. But even he’s not prepared for the morning he looks at himself in the bathroom mirror . . . and sees a whole lot of nothing looking back.

You’d think being invisible would be kind of fun. But Bobby can’t make it stop and he has no idea what caused it. He’s not even lucky enough for his clothes to turn invisible on contact. He can’t go to school, he can only go outside if he’s stark naked (which is a lot of fun in Chicago), and he freaks his parents out every time they try to look at him. The only person who doesn’t get scared is his new friend, Alicia. She’s used to not seeing things. She’s blind.

Bobby just starting to settle into his new life when social services gets wind of his long school absence and suspects his parents of wrong-doing. They can’t be fobbed off for long with stories of the flu and extended visits to Great-Aunt Ethel in Florida. Now he’s only got five days to figure out what caused his invisibility, and reverse it . . . or he’ll be sneaking Thanksgiving dinner into the slammer.

Riffing on the universal teenage experience of feeling overlooked and helpless, Clements takes it one step further in a really cool what-if story. Ironically, it’s only when he becomes invisible that Bobby begins to see the world, especially his parents, who become more real to him as he sees their reaction to his predicament. Alicia, too, is a happy change from the wise-beyond-their-years standard of disabled characters. In her own way, she’s as angry and frustrated as Bobby is, and her blindness seems as random as his invisibility.

Except for a rather pseudo-sciency explanation for Bobby’s condition, I found this story completely believable once I accepted the idea that a seventeen-year-old boy could wake up invisible one morning. Read it . . . you won’t be disappointed.


Jackie said...

I really enjoyed this, too. I gave it to a engineer friend and he couldn't get past the bad science. I guess ignorance is bliss... lol

Camille said...

The sequel, Things Hoped For, is strange but interesting. As the mother of musician types, I thought the story about a young violinist trying to get into Julliard interesting. Loved all the practicing. The rest of the story was bizarre.