Most teens feel invisible now and then.

By

Andrew Clements's new novel is based on a bizarre premise: Otherwise perfectly normal Bobby Phillips has awakened to find himself invisible. He can't see himself in the mirror. His parents can't see him when he sits down to breakfast. His ball cap seems to be floating on empty air. Fortunately for Bobby, his parents are academics who are willing to try to understand and help, but neither his father's commitment to finding a cure nor his mother's unconditional concern can change the fact that Bobby's predicament is going to be hard to explain to his friends and his school.

But Bobby isn't giving up without a fight. Not content with his father's wholly academic approach to solving his problem, Bobby uses his invisibility to sneak into the local university's library, where he hopes to find some practical answers. There, he meets an intriguing blind girl named Alicia, whose courage and intelligence inspire Bobby to trust her with his secret. In a madcap search for answers that leads them into a world of electronics, solar storms, and corporate liability records, the two teens manage to find not only answers to Bobby's problem, but insights into Alicia's blindness and their growing friendship as well.

The strength of "Things Not Seen" lies in the delightful complexity of its metaphors. Bobby was sometimes invisible to his busy parents and to the popular kids even before he disappeared. Alicia's blindness, on the other hand, is only literal – she has the wisdom and insight to see everything. The result is a book that uses quirky science fiction, comedy, family dynamics, and friendship to show how its characters learn to really see each other.

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