Parents' Guide to

The Schwa Was Here

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Going unnoticed isn't always fun.

The Schwa Was Here Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 1 parent review

age 10+

Matt Berman Got It Wrong!

Matt Berman's review does not do this book justice. The Schwa was Here is a satisfying, humorous story with typical middle-school characters. It is a tale of friendship that develops among three intertwining characters: Antsy the main character, "invisible" Calvin Schwa, and Lexie, the romantic interest who is also in her own way "invisible." Middle school students will identify with the engaging, well-drawn characters. This book received accolades from School Library Journal (starred review) as well as from The Horn Magazine.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (9):

Neal Shusterman has a unique imagination, which can make his books hard to describe. This one skirts the edge of fantasy, sometimes perhaps sticking a toe over the line. The form is a sort-of legend, reminiscent of Maniac Magee, but the voice is a not-totally-consistent but often wicked Brooklyn smart-alec. The combination is fluidly readable, unpredictable, and poignantly funny.

The chapter titles give a pretty good idea of the mood of the book: "Manny Bullpucky Gets his Sorry Butt Hurled off the Marine Park Bridge," "Which is Worse: Getting Mauled by a Pack of Dogs or Getting Your Brains Bashed out by a Steel Poker?" and so on. But there's also a lot to think about and talk about here, most notably the whole Schwa Effect -- it may be a comic exaggeration, but it's all too real for many tweens.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate