Middle-Grade/Teen Fiction Review: Things Not Seen

“It’s a Tuesday morning in February, and I get up as usual, and I stumble into the bathroom to take a shower in the dark. Which is my school-day method because it’s sort of like an extra ten minutes of sleep.
It’s after the shower. That’s when it happens.
It’s when I turn on the bathroom light and wipe the fog off the mirror to comb my hair. It’s what I see in the mirror. It’s what I don’t see.
I look a second time, and then rub at the mirror again.
I’m not there.
That’s what I’m saying.
I’m. Not. There.”

How can you go wrong with an enticing beginning like that? Andrew Clements’ book, Things Not Seen, starts with this unusual morning for 15-year old Bobby, as he wakes up and discovers he is completely invisible. After a bizarre conversation with his parents about his new condition, Bobby’s family agrees that they’ll have to figure this out on their own. They’re afraid that if they tell anyone or ask for help, Bobby will become the latest sensation and may even be taken away for scientific study.

So, Bobby tries to learn how to get along as an invisible person. His new life is lonely, since he can’t go to school and can’t tell anyone what has happened to him. Then he meets Alicia at the library. She’s blind: the perfect friend for an invisible boy. Bobby trusts Alicia with his secret, and, together, they search for answers as both of them grapple with life as someone who doesn’t fit in.

Andrew Clements is a popular author of kid’s fiction (one of my fifth-grader’s favorite authors), but he usually writes books for elementary ages. This was his first book for older kids and teens. Our whole family – two sons, ages 14 and 11, and my husband and I – listened to it on audio during a recent car trip, and we were so engrossed in Bobby’s story that we brought the CD inside and finished it when we arrived home. 14-year old Jamie said it was one of the best books he’d ever heard/read.

Andrew Clements does here what he does best – presents full, realistic characters in difficult situations – only this time for an older audience with an unusual sci-fi kind of twist and even a bit of romance. Bobby’s predicament might seem improbable, or even impossible, but all good science fiction requires a little suspension of belief. We highly recommend this book – to read or listen to – for ages 10 and up.

(NOTE: Andrew Clements has written two sequels: Things That Are and Things Hoped For, each with some of the same characters from Things Not Seen and an aspect of invisibility. I just borrowed Things That Are from the library, so I’ll let you know what I think!)

Reprinted from: www.greatbooksforkidsandteens.com

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