Things Not Seen, Andrew Clements

Synopsis: Bobby wakes up one morning and is invisible. He can’t see himself in the mirror, he talks to his parents and they can’t see him– but they can see his spoon going in and out of his mouth, etc. They freak out, of course, but Dad the Physicist kind of takes it on as an experiment. But first– they must go to work!

Bobby decides to go to the library, all bundled up. Then he strips naked to explore the library. He realizes it’s a stupid idea and his dad’s about to be at home, so he gets his stuff and goes. He runs into a girl on his way out, but she doesn’t freak out or anything– she happens to be blind.

Well, Dad freaks out that Bobby left the house. Bobby freaks out that Dad and Mom put work before staying home with their distressed invisible son. Dad says they’ll work something out, and he goes off to pick up dinner and Mom when they have a car accident. Bobby sneaks into the hospital to check on them and they work stuff out.

Bobby is lonely and scared, and three days of being in the house made him a little stir crazy. He goes to the library and sees Blind Girl, Alicia.  Alicia’s really nice to talk to, and they walk. When she reaches out to steady herself on the street, she realizes he’s naked. He has to spill the beans about being invisible.  Her family eventually finds out about his situation. Her dad is a scientist, so they get to ponder the problem over pizza with the entire family.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN “WHY AREN’T YOU IN SCHOOL” WORLD, the school is suspicious that he hasn’t been there in two weeks. A little long for the flu, eh? Mom is feisty and is quick on her feet with the excuses, but she has a certain amount of time to produce Bobby before a criminal investigation is pursued– after all, these are suspicious circumstances.

They decide that the electric blanket Bobby used may have a weird magnetic field going on. Alicia and Bobby call up Sears to find out if there are any defects to the blanket. They then call corporate to see if there are any complaints, but they don’t give them any answers. While Alicia distracts corporate by asking about job opportunities for the disabled, Bobby breaks into the office to get names and numbers of people who have complained. After 59 calls, a man does say it was his daughter’s blanket and she disappeared.  Bobby realizes he’s not alone in the situation, and contacts the daughter. She’s been invisible for three years.

Alicia suggests something about two negatives make a positive (double negatives in English, negative times negative in math). Bobby gets under the blanket when some natural magnetic force is in play. He’s visible, and naked, when there’s a sneak attack on the house by the truancy people. He tells Alicia that he’s visible now, and she has some mixed feelings because they were different together, ya know? But he still likes her, and makes her well aware of the fact.

Bookworm Commentary:

  • I think the whole idea of this book was, people think they’re invisible because people don’t pay attention to them. Bobby felt this way both with his parents and the more popular peers at his school.  It’s pretty insightful, in that sense.
  • Just because his body is invisible does not mean anything he touches is invisible. He runs around naked most of the book. It’s pretty amusing when he’s in public places, thinking deeply about, ew, my naked bottom on THAT?
  • His friendship with Alicia is pretty realistic. I mean, other than the strong unlikelihood that he’d run into a blind girl in the first place. But seriously, she’s angry at being blind and thinks he’s kidding when he says he’s invisible. These “disabilities” bond them together because they can be seen for who they are and not for their images or whatnot.
  • Also, their parents and the need to protect their kids is pretty strong, and they kind of bond over “Would they leave me alone…”
  • Bobby compares invisibility to being in a prison. Sheila, the other invisible girl, chooses to remain in that prison. (She’s an adult with an internet business and a burka when she has to go out.)
  • Wow, a truant officer doing their job? Even Bobby’s mom was okay with them doing the job since some kids really do need the help. The family was obviously stressed, so that kind of got in the way…
  • I have no idea how to categorize this book. I just stuck it in fantasy because why the heck not? 🙂

Class Stuff:
Grades: Middle school. I actually got this through Scholastic Book Club a  year or so ago via an English teacher I did field work with.
Grade: B+
This wasn’t a book I wanted to read right away. I had it for forever, and just never felt like reading it. It didn’t exactly have me at hello, but it was a good book that I mostly read in an afternoon.  It’s realistically written,  nice sci-fi elements combined with realistic issues an invisible kid would have. No, a high school kid can’t go invisible without raising suspicion, for example, and the exchanges between mom and truant officer made sense. The potential Sears law suit was a nice touch.   Clements also wrote Frindle, which won the Christopher Award (as my Kid Lit teacher put it, a Christopher Award is a high seal of approval and even the most conservative parents won’t hate you for teaching it).

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5 Comments

Filed under Adventure, Fantasy

5 responses to “Things Not Seen, Andrew Clements

  1. Name

    This book was EXTREMELY boring.

  2. Andrew Clements

    I think that this was one of my best books that i have written.

  3. Kimmy

    I Loved the book it had a little romance I mean bobby fell in love with Alicia and it just made shivers go all over I think I may have fallen in love with bobby the way he tried to kiss Alicia it made me actually jealous but he is a fictional character so anyway! my boyfriends name is bobby 🙂

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