I was trying to pull together my top picks list for elementary school, when Something Invisible knocked me off my feet. This quirky book by Siobhan Parkinson mixes humor with real tragedy, and does it well. Eleven-year-old Jake meets a girl who inserts herself into his life in a way he couldn’t have expected. At the same time, his mom has a new baby that nobody told him was coming. He just thought mom was putting on weight. Now he has to deal with this new baby and the changes she is bringing to his family. And the girl and her large family make him look at who he is and how he relates to those around him. A slow-paced book, more about tone and feeling than action.
And how can a book lover type not love this passage:
“I collect words,” Stella said. “It’s my hobby. But it’s a bit like collecting seashells you can’t collect them all, so I only collect the beautiful ones. Like ‘mackerel,’ and ‘plinth,’ and ‘obloquy.’ I try to go by the sounds, not the meanings, but sometimes the meanings do get in the way, like ‘tryst,’ for example. I don’t know whether I really like that word, or whether it’s just the idea of it. Do you see what I mean?”And this:
Jake coughed. “I like mackerel,” he said at last.
“We brought you some cherries,” said Jake, offering her a small bowl.Something bad does happen, which goes to prove that I can like a sad book, if it is well written. The bad thing takes a while to happen, even though it’s listed in the description of the book as though it is the theme of the book. I thought that was strange, but I won’t let that tarnish my opinion of the book itself.
“Ah, what life is not a bowl of,” said Ms. Kennedy. “Thank you.”
“Excuse me?” said Jake.
“Life is not a bowl of cherries, Jake,” said Mrs. Kennedy gravely.
“Oh, I see,” said Jake. “I knew that, actually.”