- ISBN-13: 9781416957973
- ISBN-10: 1416957979
- Publisher: Ginee Seo Books
- Publish Date: October 2008
- Page Count: 233
- Reading Level: Ages 10-14
- Dimensions: 8.44 x 6.02 x 0.91 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.89 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 54.
- Review Date: 2008-10-13
- Reviewer: Staff
Were Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid to be suddenly bereaved, his next diary might approximate this painful but often funny novel, written by the author of the adult work Wolf Boy and illustrated by a debut graphic artist. Keeping a notebook, 12-year-old Finn Garrett explains in an early entry that a few months before, “a giant eraser fell from the sky and flattened me.... It's been erasing me from the world ever since.” His father has died unexpectedly (in circumstances described only near the end), and Finn's black hair and pink complexion are gradually turning white (Coovert's cartoon shows a gray Finn looking into a mirror and seeing a vampire reflected back). As Finn remembers perfect moments with his father, avoids school as long as possible and compares his mother's and paternal grandfather's attitudes about death, he is made to see his pediatrician as well as a kindly school psychologist, who have their own theories about the “whiteness thing.” Precise in his metaphors and his characterizations, Kuhlman delivers a study in coping with loss that middle-schoolers will want to absorb and empathize with. Ages 10–14. (Nov.)
One boy's disappearing act
Once upon a time 12-year-old Finn Garrett was what we'd call a normal kid. Although he formerly enjoyed his friends, family and his cat, all of that has changed now. Since his father's untimely passing, Finn's life is upside-down.
First of all, Finn's appearance is changing by the minute: once an average-looking kid with dark hair and pinkish skin, Finn now finds his hair turning white, and his formerly pink skin becoming chalky. Deeply disturbed, Finn reasons that he is fading way, disappearing. So before he is gone for good, he decides to tell his story in this memoir-within-a-novel, The Last Invisible Boy.
Part journal and part graphic novel, the book flows with a stream-of-consciousness narrative. Finn's memoirs reflect a wry innocence combined with the pain of loss, making this outing a sweet, sorrowful look at grieving and healing. We amble along with fretful Finn, in and out of his semi-catastrophic days, as he introduces us to his many interests, touching on just about everything except "The Terrible Day That Changed Everything": the day his father died.
Finn repeatedly reflects on his wonderful memories, reveals the highlights of his friendship with good pal Melanie and shares his insatiable interest in etymology. We may agree with Finn's claims that his thoughts resemble a "runaway bus," but we are routinely amused and touched as he regales us with tales of his "spaceship flights," love of astronomy, numerous cemetery visits and his nonstop worries about invisibility. Finn even provides detailed information about his visits to the school district psychologist, but we do not learn details of Finn's father's death until well after the halfway point in this starkly original book.
Author Evan Kuhlman's effective attempt at dealing with death and bereavement follows his adult novel, Wolf Boy, which covered similar terrain. J.P. Coovert's simple black-and-white illustrations enhance the good-humored tone of The Last Invisible Boy, and ensure that Finn comes to life as a believable character the reader won't soon forget.
Andrea Tarr is a librarian and freelance writer in Alta Loma, California.