Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

cover image

Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 9780141348872.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Spells. Homosexuality. New York. Stephen is used to being invisible. Even his parents couldn't see him. Living alone in a flat in New York, he manages to survive. Then new tenants move into the apartment upstairs and he discovers to his amazement that Elizabeth can see him and that he wants to be with her. But a world of spells and curses separates them, and together with Elizabeth's gay brother, Laurie, they try to come up with a way to break the spell that his grandfather the curse maker has put on him.
The writing team of two well-known authors for teens makes for a powerful story that combines the issues that young people face with a thrilling story of terrible curses and spells. When the three meet Millie, a spell seeker, she recognises that Elizabeth has abilities as a spell seeker and begins to train her. Elizabeth has to work out if she is strong enough to take on Stephen's grandfather, who has had no qualms about cursing his daughter and grandson.
The New York setting is vividly described, especially as Stephen goes about the streets and park, with no one the wiser. This brings the story to life as it is fascinating for the reader to imagine the trio making their way around New York as their quest develops. However it is the in-depth characterisation that makes this story stand out. The isolation of Stephen, his relationship with his father, who is content to pay his bills and leave it at that, makes a poignant contrast to how he feels when suddenly there is someone who can see him. Laurie, who had been bashed at his last school for being gay, is a resilient character and Elizabeth is a believable spell seeker.
Told from 2 viewpoints, that of Stephen and Elizabeth, this is a story that will appeal to both fans of Levithan and Cremer, and will give readers the opportunity to wonder what it would be like to live an invisible life.
Pat Pledger