Sunday, January 22, 2006
Hautman, Pete. 2005. INVISIBLE. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689868006 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-11]
Doug Hanson is gifted in math and can construct complex structures. Yet at seventeen, he is an outsider among his peers who are put off by his weird and freakish behavior. He gets beat up at school and the girl he has a crush on calls him a worm. His best friend Andy is everything Doug is not – popular, athletic and the one person that Doug can talk to. Doug is a loner and turns to his elaborate creation of model trains and bridges in his basement as solace. Slowly Doug retreats deeper and deeper into his own world and tries to keep some things secret. This ultimately fails as Doug loses his grip on reality with tragic consequences.
From the beginning, the reader is clearly aware that something isn’t quite right with Dougie’s view of reality. Through cleverly written text, the reader actually begins to cheer for Doug as the underdog and the victim of bullying. The story is narrated by Dougie who has a clever wit about him although his point of view is skewed. The plot development is paced well through the use of flashback and foreshadowing. Ultimately Doug is forced to remember what really happened to his best friend Andy, but the results are heartbreaking.
Because the sigil (or seal Doug creates) figures so prominently in this story, readers can research the history of the meaning and then create their own.
The following books deal with mental illness and teens:
McCormick, Patricia. CUT. ISBN 1886910618
Trueman, Terry. INSIDE OUT. ISBN 0064473767
By Pamela Kemp