Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl

3.5 7
by Mary Hanlon Stone
     
 

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When poor Boston girl Stephanie is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie's Beverly Hills family, she feels anything but home. Her dark complexion and accent stick out like a sore thumb in the golden-hued world of blondes and extravagance. These are girls who seem to live life in fastforward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause. Yet when a new rival

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Overview

When poor Boston girl Stephanie is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie's Beverly Hills family, she feels anything but home. Her dark complexion and accent stick out like a sore thumb in the golden-hued world of blondes and extravagance. These are girls who seem to live life in fastforward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause. Yet when a new rival moves to town, threatening Annie's queen-bee status, Stephanie finds herself taking sides in a battle she never even knew existed, and that feeling invisible is a wound that can only be healed by standing up for who she is.

Brilliant newcomer Mary Hanlon Stone delivers a compulsively readable insider's view of growing up in a world where money and privilege don't always glitter.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First-time author Stone debuts with a careful and challenging examination of clique politics. After Stephanie’s abusive, alcoholic mother abandons the family, her ineffectual father ships her off to a wealthy family she has never met in Los Angeles, where Alpha girl Annie takes her under her wing (“Let’s tell everyone we’re real cousins”). Stephanie loves feeling included, but hiding her background—and her true self—soon becomes impossible. There is a lot of emotional territory for Stephanie to travel as she explores her troubled past and complex present. Readers may not feel like all of the story lines are examined completely; Stephanie’s relationship with her mother, who hit her but also “hugged me fiercely,” seems more like a narrative device than a real part of her story. However, Stone demonstrates smart insight into how Annie’s circle operates and how hard Stephanie works to be part of it (“I nod when she nods. I laugh when she laughs”). Though her inevitable transformation comes quick, readers will find it easy to rally for Stephanie as she becomes visible on her own terms. Ages 12-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Michele C. Hughes
Fourteen-year-old Stephanie feels ambivalent about her glamorous, alcoholic mother—and rightly so, as she endures her fists one minute and her loving caresses the next. So when her mother abandons the family, and Stephanie's father sends her to live with a family friend in Southern California, Stephanie is troubled and confused. The Sullivan family is everything Stephanie's is not: affectionate, social, rich, privileged. And Stephanie will do just about anything, including pretend to be someone she's not, to fit in with fourteen-year-old Annie Sullivan and her ritzy, popular friends. Lies pile upon lies as Stephanie carefully constructs a version of herself that is acceptable to the group, and she watches their shifting alliances and power plays with fascination. Stephanie's fraud is eventually exposed, leaving her humiliated and outcast, a painful time in which she finds the seeds of growth and change. Stephanie's narration is raw and wounded, at points painful to read, but authentic throughout. Readers will wince at her awkwardness in social situations with the in-crowd. Dialogue and posturing among the members of Annie's clique are spot-on—and more than a little disturbing to see in ninth graders. This makes Stephanie's genuineness all the more attractive. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes
VOYA - Beth Karpas
Invisible Girl begins with a very dark scene as Stephanie cowers in a closet, wets herself like a child, and is then found and beaten by her alcoholic mother as her father stands by. She is anything but invisible, and she is definitely a little girl inside, but a young teenager on the outside. She reads voraciously. Her heroine is Nancy Drew, though she knows those books are too young for her. She sees words as weapons, throwing terms like undulate and antidisestablishmentarianism with her mind but rarely using them out loud. When Stephanie's mom leaves, her dad sends her to live with family friends in California. In this wealthy family of seven, Annie, the older daughter, is Stephanie's age. In order to be accepted by Annie, Stephanie first hides behind a life of lies. Soon Stephanie learns that Annie, while not violent, is highly manipulative. As Stephanie's visit continues, she moves from Annie's "in" crowd to outcast. She also grows up, trading memoirs of strong women like Eleanor Roosevelt for Nancy Drew and picking her own friends to whom she can speak freely. That first abusive scene makes the reader feel sorry for the girl in the closet. When she tries to be Nancy Drew, the reader sees the coming pitfalls and wants to scream at her to stop. Yet by the end, Stephanie is turning into a strong woman like the heroines in her books, and she is using her amazing vocabulary. Stone has painted a character worth reading and worth talking about. Reviewer: Beth Karpas
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Stephanie's abusive, alcoholic mother leaves their Boston home one night in a theatrical huff. Her weak-willed father cannot cope, so the 14-year-old is shunted across the country to a wealthy friend while the family figures out what to do. The friend's teen daughter is initially excited to include Stephanie in her clique, and Stephanie uses her Boston accent to make people laugh while spinning lies to keep them from knowing about her family's sordid past. However, after an overheard conversation, the queen bees turn on Stephanie. When a new girl appears and draws their fire, Stephanie is at first simply relieved to be out of the crosshairs but soon sees a different path and befriends the girl. Stone skillfully takes her protagonist from the bottom of a smelly closet where she is hiding from her mother's fists to a sunny, golden California beach club full of socially climbing girls concerned only with fashion, diets, boys, and possessions. It is as stark a change for readers as it is for Stephanie. She is in many ways younger than these teens, although she's had harder things to deal with, and her naïveté is heartbreaking. She learns from her trials, but there are no miracles. Stone portrays her growth believably, in small increments, with many slipups along the way.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Stephanie's abusive mother has abandoned her, and her father cannot care for her, so he sends her from Boston to live with distant relatives in southern California. Life with her cousin (named, ironically enough, Annie Sullivan) introduces Stephanie to the social politics of freshman girls. Annie's clique grudgingly accepts Stephanie before they catch her in a web of lies about her past and ostracize her. Stephanie then befriends the new girl in town, Amal, whom Annie declares an instant enemy. Amal's self-confidence and loving Muslim family give Stephanie a place to belong and the strength to tolerate, if not defend herself against, Annie. Stephanie often sounds like she is 11 instead of 14, comforting herself with vocabulary words and Nancy Drew novels. It's unclear whether Stephanie's immaturity, both physical and emotional, stems from her abusive mother. She is quick to observe the state of other girls' bodies, particularly their breasts, so her naivete about her own body and social situations doesn't ring true. With a plot that lacks cohesion and a basically uninteresting main character, this novel's a miss. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399252495
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/27/2010
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.62(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile:
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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