Parents' Guide to

Invisible Girl

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Searing memoir of growing up in troubled family offers hope.

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Invisible Girl covers territory common to many young-adult novels -- alcoholism, mental illness, suicide -- but it's all the more harrowing knowing this was the author's actual experience. Mariel Hemingway begins the narration in the baffled voice of a very young kid, and she basically maintains that voice throughout, puzzled by the bizarre behavior of the surrounding adults (she often seems like the only sane person in the family) and confusing, sometimes hurtful situations she mostly navigates on her own.

Kids will relate to the typical growing-up dilemmas and incidents, such as being the target of sibling or classmate rivalry, having a crush, and holding hands with a boy for the first time. And readers from troubled families can find hope in the fact that Hemingway survived hers and didn't repeat the familial pattern of substance abuse. The author not only offers a raft of "Where to Go for Help" resources at the back with website addresses and phone numbers (such as Alanon, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the International OCD Foundation, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and so on) but also introduces each topic area in the context of her own experience. She advises kids that if they're going through something like she did or feeing the same way not to keep it to themselves; there are adults and organizations that can help.

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