November 2008

One boy’s disappearing act

By Evan Kuhlman
Review by
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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.

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The Last Invisible Boy

The Last Invisible Boy

By Evan Kuhlman
ISBN 9781416957973

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