Friday, September 14, 2007


Things Hoped For

by Andrew Clements. Not so much a sequel as a related followup to Things Not Seen, in which Bobby becomes invisible for about a month, with no apparent reason, and figures out a lot of things while dealing with that.

This book opens with the story of Gwennie, a music student on the verge of her college auditions. She's under pressure, sees her whole life leading up to this, and needs to play well enough to get a scholarship. At the same time, her grandfather and great-uncle Hank are arguing about the selling of the house that she lives in with her grandpa. Things take a turn for the weird when her grandpa leaves her a message saying he has to disappear for the next few days and that she should not let anyone know, should keep the house running and not worry, and should spend whatever money she needs. She worries anyhow, of course, and tries to keep Hank at bay while still getting in some practice. She gets help in the form of another music student she met the year before who shows up, starts chatting, and sticks with her when she spills the beans to him. This turns out to be Robert, as Bobby now calls himself. He ends up telling her about his weird past event when he sees the shadow of another invisible. The man turns out to be a nasty business, but after he and Gwennie figure out the nystery of grandpa and go to the police, both plots get wrapped up nicely.

Andrew Clements is one of my favourite authors for kids. I like his writing, I like how his plots move, and mostly, I like that his characters are generally found by the end to be pretty fully drawn. All too often in kidslit, adults are stock characters, but he really fleshed them out into real people with real worries and motivations, and shows them to the kids who read him. This was not as fully performed here, as the story revolved very tightly around Gwennie and her music, but by the end, she (and we) had gotten to know a lot more about her grandpa and even Uncle Hank, and realized that her story was not so simple, not just her and her music, but that she has been focussed really narrowly.

And the ending? Well, her dad had come up to help sort out the mystery of her grandfather, appearing in the last day of the tale, and then he went to her audition with her. How did she do? Well, we don't know, but the point was made that she saw something important - that wasn't the only thing for her anymore. And off she went.

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