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Things That Are
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
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What's the story?
Alicia is thrilled that her maybe-boyfriend Bobby is back from his trip to New York. But William has followed him back. Like Bobby was once, William is invisible, and he knows that Bobby has the secret to controlling the invisibility. But the FBI is also following Bobby to get to William, whom they consider a threat. Their fathers, it turns out, have also been experimenting with invisibility. And Alicia, still struggling with her blindness, doesn't know whom to trust.
Is it any good?
No doubt this book is just a bump in the road for a brilliant author like Clements, but fans may want to skip this one and wait eagerly for the next. Clements starts with whatever you'd call the opposite of an opening hook -- an opening block? Opening shove? Well, whatever, it's nearly 30 pages of dreary exposition.
It's clear, though, that his biggest mistake was telling this in Alicia's voice, because Alicia is just dull -- she obsesses over minutiae, describes detail in excruciating detail (seriously, seven pages on walking to the library?), worries at length about Bobby's feelings for her, and maunders on and on. There's a little gimmick about a voice she has inside her that questions her, annoys her, and calls her names she doesn't like, but it's more annoying than revealing. This endless interior monologue may be realistic -- maybe this is just like what goes on in a blind teen girl's head -- but in that case we can all be thankful that it usually stays there.
From the Book:
And sometimes when I'm at the library sitting in my study room, I can feel the books all around me, millions of them. And I picture myself walking among the stacks, and I choose a shelf, any shelf, and I walk along and let one hand bump along the spines. All those silent books. They keep their backs toward me. I stop and pull one from its place, feel the texture of the cover, and I open the book and smell that rich, deep scent of paper and ink and time. And if the book is old enough, and the paper is thick enough, and the letterpress pushed hard enough, I can drift a fingertip across a page and feel the tiny impressions, feel the words resting there. All those silent pages. At the library.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the actions of Alicia's and Bobby's fathers. Why do they experiment with invisibility if they think it's too dangerous for anyone to know about? Why do they keep it secret? What do they plan to do with the results? Why don't they trust the FBI? Will they continue? Should they? Is invisibility really too dangerous for anyone to know about?