Invisible

Invisible

4.3 33
by Pete Hautman
     
 

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You could say that my railroad, the Madham Line, is almost the most important thing in my life. Next to Andy Morrow, my best friend.

Lots of people think Doug Hanson is a freak — he gets beat up after school, and the girl of his dreams calls him a worm. Doug's only refuge is creating an elaborate bridge for the model railroad in his basement and

Overview

You could say that my railroad, the Madham Line, is almost the most important thing in my life. Next to Andy Morrow, my best friend.

Lots of people think Doug Hanson is a freak — he gets beat up after school, and the girl of his dreams calls him a worm. Doug's only refuge is creating an elaborate bridge for the model railroad in his basement and hanging out with his best friend, Andy Morrow, a popular football star who could date any girl in school. Doug and Andy talk about everything — except what happened at the Tuttle place a few years back.

It does not matter to Andy that we live in completely different realities. I'm Andy's best friend. It does not matter to Andy that we hardly ever actually do anything together.

As Doug retreats deeper and deeper into his own reality, long-buried secrets threaten to destroy both Doug and Andy — and everything else in Doug's fragile world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Echoes of Faulkner."

Kirkus

"With its excellent plot development and unforgettable, heartbreaking protagonist, this is a compelling novel of mental illness."

School Library Journal, starred review

"Hautman once again proves his keen ability for characterization and for building suspense."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW wrote, "Hautman once again proves his keen ability for characterization and for building suspense in this painfully sad novel," which centers on an introverted math whiz's downward spiral. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Doug Hanson has "crooked teeth and poor coordination," wears "stupid clothes," and has the popular, talented Andy Morrow as a best friend. Next to Andy, the most important thing in his life is his Madham Line, the locomotive set left to him by his grandfather. Dougie's obsessive nature has led him to turn this train set into a town, where he's in the process of finishing an eleven-foot suspension bridge built of matchsticks that he has sanded, stripped of tips, and glued together from over 22,400 matches. Dougie's precision and troubled quality are immediately apparent to readers. Soon we watch him spiral downward. He gets caught for peeping on a popular girl and phoning in a bomb threat. Why does he always get in trouble when his best friend Andy seems close by? And what is the troubling event that happened to Andy? Spare writing, carefully-selected details, and a curious voice lend suspense to this story, but readers will be little prepared for the realities of Dougie's life or the book's tragic end. 2005, Simon and Schuster, Ages 11 up.
—Susie Wilde
VOYA
Doug Hanson is as profoundly disturbed as a teen can get. At seventeen, he still communicates with his best friend, Andy, killed two years ago in a fire that Doug was partly responsible for setting. Targeted in high school by his fellow students for his deeply weird behavior, Doug loses himself in the basement of his home, constructing an exquisitely detailed miniature railroad, complete with bridges and people and town buildings, all made out of headless matchsticks. Doug's home life is a misery. His bullying, punishing, professor father has cowed Doug's mother and will not tolerate Doug's obvious slide toward a mental breakdown, despite regular sessions with a therapist. Mr. Hanson cannot tolerate imperfection even when Doug is caught stalking a fellow student and the police come knocking. With excruciating care, Hautman builds an unbearable tension toward disaster. At the beginning of the book, Doug has designed a sigil, a seal using a combination of Doug's and Andy's initials. As the story careens toward inevitable tragedy, the sigil devolves into ever more obscure versions until it is an unreadable but arresting sign of impending horror. Schools and parents continue to ignore the costs of bullying at their own and their children's peril. Hautman takes the reader into the very core of the victim and the dynamics of heartless targeting, and forces all to accept responsibility for stopping the cycle of violence. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Simon & Schuster, 160p.,Ages 11 to 18.
—Beth E. Andersen
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Seventeen-year-old Dougie takes everything literally, lacks social graces, and is a loner, except, perhaps, for his one friend, athletic and popular Andy Morrow. But readers know almost immediately that something tragic has happened in the recent past: "Andy and I had some bad luck with fires when we were kids. We're more careful now." Other students feel threatened by Dougie's disturbing behavior and react by targeting him with cruelty and violence, which only serves to escalate his descent into unreality, isolation, and obsession. The teen has been working for nearly three years on his model railroad set, using 22,400 headless matches to build a bridge connecting portions of the "Madham Line." As his life deteriorates, this obsession and his nightly talks with Andy are the only things that keep him clinging to normalcy. He resists the help of his psychiatrist and hides his medication. Ultimately, he is forced to remember what actually happened on that fateful night. With its excellent plot development and unforgettable, heartbreaking protagonist, this is a compelling novel of mental illness.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dougie Hanson is invisible to nearly everyone in this haunting, lonely tale. He's extremely close to his best friend, Andy, even though Andy's a popular athlete. When they aren't together, Dougie works on the elaborate model train he's been building for nearly three years; the 11-foot-long suspension bridge built of matchsticks is nearly done. The bridge contains 22,400 matches in all (Dougie likes both numbers and matches). As the bridge approaches completion, glimpses from Doug's eyes reveal a life more troubled than he admits. His parents worry, his therapist asks if he's taking his meds and a female schoolmate accuses him of stalking. The mentally ill Dougie, who evokes echoes of Faulkner with his unreliable narration, is confronted with truths he can't bear. The deceptively simple prose doesn't keep secrets from its readers, but Dougie's harrowing mysteries are no less tragic for their visibility. (Fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689869037
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
11/28/2006
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
526,692
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: My Best Friend

There is something about trains. The sound they make. The way they go by, one car after another after another after another. Every car different but somehow the same. And the tracks go on forever, connecting places, connecting people. Wherever you are, you could go to the nearest railroad track right now, and if you followed it long enough, you would find me.

There is another thing to know about trains. They are large and dangerous. They would crush you if they could, but they are confined by those two narrow strips of steel. Trains are like fire. You don't want to get in their way.

My grandfather left me his HO scale model railroad when he passed on. One locomotive, seven cars, and sixteen feet of track. That's another reason I like trains — they connect me to him, wherever he is. You could say that my railroad, the Madham Line, is almost the most important thing in my life. Next to Andy Morrow, my best friend.

A guy like Andy might have more than one best friend. He is so popular that there are at least five kids at school who would probably claim him. But if you asked Andy who was his best friend, he would say, "Dougie Hanson, of course." And that would be me.

I'm a quiet kid, pretty much invisible — except if you happen to notice me standing next to Andy. We grew up together, Andy and me. Next door, actually. We met at the age of one year and three months. Our birthdays are only seventeen days apart. We are like Velcro, like two poles of a magnet, like peanut butter and jelly, like superglue. We are best friends by every definition. Best friends. Best. Friends.

It doesn't matter to Andy Morrow that I have crooked teeth and poor coordination and wear stupid clothes. It wouldn't matter if I had a nose like a pig and smelled of Limburger cheese. Andy would still say, "Dougie is my best friend."

True, Andy might spend more time with other kids who claim to be his best friend. He might hang with the other football players, and his friends on the student council, and his golfing friends, and his theater friends, but he always comes home at night and opens his bedroom window and calls out across the low picket fence, "Hey, Dougie!"

And if my window is open, and if I'm awake, we talk.

It does not matter that we don't spend as much time together as we used to. I tell Andy all about the new tank car I bought for the Madham Line. I might talk about my mother's latest crossword puzzle, or a book I read about black holes, or a math test I took in school, and Andy would listen. That is what best friends do.

And if Andy wants to talk about the school play he is starring in, or his latest football game, or a girl he met...I'll listen to him, too.

It does not matter to Andy that we live in completely different realities. I'm Andy's best friend. It does not matter to Andy that we hardly ever actually do anything together.

Why should it? We are best friends, me and Andy. Best. Friends.

Copyright © by 2005 Peter Hautman

Chapter Two: Stella

Andy. Best. Friends.

My full and proper name is Douglas MacArthur Hanson. I am named after Douglas MacArthur, the famous general, who was a second cousin of my father's great-aunt. Everyone on my father's side is named after some famous person we are supposedly related to. My father's name is Henry Clay Hanson. Henry Clay was a politician who died before the Civil War. He was my grandfather's cousin's great-uncle. Or something like that. It goes on and on. Since my grandfather's name was George Washington Hanson, I guess I'm related to the father of our country too. Anyway, I'm glad I got named after a general instead of a politician. I think it makes me sound more respectable.

Usually when I meet someone for the first time, I tell them my full and proper name. Then I say, "But you can call me General." Some people find that amusing. Andy always laughs. Sometimes he calls me General, just to tease me. I don't mind. I kind of like it. I am very easy to get along with.

My mother would not agree with that. She finds me difficult. In fact, she thinks that I am troubled and disturbed. I find it troubling that she finds me disturbing, so she must be right.

Right?

"Hey, Dougie!"

I look at my alarm clock: 1:17.

"Dougie, you up?"

I roll out of bed and crawl to the window.

"I'm up now," I say, resting my chin on the windowsill.

"How's it going?" Andy is sitting in his window, his long legs dangling over the spirea bushes.

"I was dreaming."

"What were you dreaming?"

"I don't remember. Hey, was tonight your play?"

"Yeah! It went great. I didn't miss a line. But — you're gonna like this — Melissa's skirt came off."

"Melissa Haverman?"

"Yeah! See, I'm Stanley Kowalski, and Melissa is playing Stella, my wife? And in this one scene she's really mad and she spins around fast and the bottom of her skirt gets caught on a nail sticking out of this table leg and it comes right off." He laughs. "She was wearing blue panties."

I have a very vivid imagination. I can see it in my head just like a movie.

Andy says, "But she was really cool. She grabbed the skirt and pulled it back on and just kept going with the scene. The audience didn't laugh or anything. You should've been there."

"I don't really like plays," I say. "A bunch of people talking about nothing."

"Well, you would've liked this one. You should've heard Melissa after the play. She was so mad at the guy in charge of props, I thought she'd rip his face off. So what did you do today?"

"Still working on my bridge." I am connecting East Madham to West Madham with an eleven-foot-long suspension bridge. I've been working on it for months. It's really quite amazing.

"How's it going?"

"I've finally got the towers built." The entire bridge is scratch-built from matchsticks, string, and glue. Andy always teases me about that.

"Aren't you afraid it's gonna catch on fire?"

We laugh. Andy and I had some bad luck with fires when we were kids. We're more careful now. I always scrape the phosphorous tips off all the matchsticks before using them. I have scraped the heads off 112 boxes of stick matches. There are 200 matches in a box. In case you are slow at math, that's 22,400 matches in all.

"I figure the bridge will be ready for its inaugural crossing in about three weeks. Everybody in Madham will be there. You want to come?"

Copyright © 2005 by Pete Hautman

Meet the Author

Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, Invisible, and Mr. Was, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at PeteHautman.com.

Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, Invisible, and Mr. Was, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at PeteHautman.com.

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Invisible 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
CoxJ More than 1 year ago
This book is about a kid named Doug. Doug has a best friend named Andy that he does everything with. Together Doug and Andy get into a lot of trouble. Andy fits in with the popular crowd and Doug doesn't. They are still friends and thats what matters. The book continues on and Doug is getting weirder and weirder. It ends with a chilling discovery. I liked this book a lot and would recommend this to book lovers everywhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Invisible by Pete Hautman is about a boy named Doug who is a very unpopular boy whose best friend is very popular. He is on the football team and has bunches of friends. Everybody calls Doug a creeper and a worm. They are all just very mean to him. They beat him up and are mean. Despite all of this, Doug's best friend still hangs out with him. He doesn't care if Doug is the biggest loser because they have been best friends for years. At the end of the book, there is a huge twist. I thought this book was alright. Some parts I didn't like very much but other parts were better. This book kind of reminded me of the movie Uninvited. Some parts I felt that people around him were to hard on him, but at the end I realized why his parents were so mean. Throughout the book, the author dropped hints about the ending. Over all, this book was okay. It definitely wouldn't go in my top ten though. CSB! ?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was absolutely amazing! I couldn't stop reading it. This book includes problems that most authors would not write about. Douglas can relate to most students. He's a typical geek with typical crushes. The ending was extremely sad but, I would seriously recommend this book to anyone who likes to read books you can't put down. Invisible was phenomenal and sad at the same time. Pete Hautman put some twists in the book that you would not expect. This book is one that you could reread so many times. I read this book in less than an hour. The surprises you find in the book are interesting and are what makes the book so unique.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Seventeen-year-old Doug Hanson just wants to be alone with his trains. No one understands him except his best friend, Andy. His parents make him see a counselor, which he knows is pointless: Dr. Ahlstrom is not helping me one bit. Why? Because I do not need help--it's as simple as that (p. 22). So he doesn't want to make new friends or hang out with the kids at school--does that make him 'troubled?' Of course not. But only Andy seems to understand that and accept him as he is. Hautman draws the reader into the world he creates and holds them captive. One becomes as mesmerized with the model bridge Doug is building as he is after a couple of rounds of counting by seventeens, this reader finds herself giving it a try. As the story unfolds, she begins to wish everyone would just get off Doug's back and let him build his models. Must everyone be popular, after all? INVISIBLE is an excellent choice for readers who enjoy a bit of mystery with their realism, and Hautman is a master of words, only revealing 'why' when the reader is least cognizant that there is even a question waiting to be answered. **Reviewed by: Mechele R. Dillard
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
K
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a story of a boy who has a past that has been concealed. Due to this past he has secrets and a friend... but the main message that can be grasped from this read is that friendship is inseverable... not even when death is involved.
JoeMitch More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy that really enjoys bridges. So much in fact that he is making a scale bridge that is a replica of the golden gate bridge. He has like one friend and that friend is a really popular and cool. His friend sticks with him to the end. Dougie has a problem with his mind he goes to therapy and takes medication. I kind of like this book it is a little weird.
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
I give this book 4 stars because it was very interesting and I never wanted to put the book down, although the ending of the book left me hanging, considering that it's so short. I still love this book and I wish it was longer! Invisible is about a boy seventeen-year-old Doug who loves trains. In fact, he was a whole city in his basement which has a train that wraps around it! Doug's best friend is Andy, star quarterback on their high school football team, in all sorts of plays, and known by everyone in school. And for Doug, he is the complete opposite. Doug just stays at home all day and works on his trains. The two boys are partners in crime and do everything possible together, Andy even said he will never leave Doug's side. This book is touching and the ending leaves me in chills, it is not what you expected to happen. I would recommend this book to eighth graders and above, it isn't for people younger than that. It's number of pages fools those who actually care to read a couple chapters. For example, there is one part of the book where Doug spies on his crush through the window, which isn't fit for children younger than 13. Another thing that says that it's for 8th graders and above is that it is great to write a page about or do a project on. It explains everything well and is a step by step process of things that happen, and the many chapters also help keeping track of events. This js a great book, I suggest you go in and buy it, my school did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
suttonm More than 1 year ago
Invisible is about a boy named Doug who seems to be having some emotional problems. His parents have been sending him to a therapist to help him, yet he doesnt quite know why yet. He is a young teenager not like many who enjoys building model trains and cities out of matches and isnt one of the popular kids, unlike his best friend Andy. Doug and Andy have been best friends for quite some time now and they do pretty much everything together although school might be a little different. These two get into a ton of trouble and no matter what others think nothing can split them up. As the book goes along everything starts to fall into place. Doug soon realizes why he has been sent to a therapist, although he also realizes his life is going down hill. I cant tell you too much without giving it away so i will just end it there. I would recommend this book to anyone, honestly this book is fantastic and i think anyone would enjoy it. Out of 5 i would have to give this book a definite 5.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love this book, but there is one scence in the book involving the pretty girl and her "snow" sweater. (People who have read it, probably know what I am talking about) This scence was very awkward for me, mostly because I am female...Overall, a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i first read this book, i was stopped dead in my tracks by how good this books ending was.. so unexpected and so raw. I re-read this book three times already and its amazing. Hautman's an amazing writer. This book should seriously be on high school reading lists.
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Seventeen-year-old Doug Hanson just wants to be alone with his trains. No one understands him except his best friend, Andy. His parents make him see a counselor, which he knows is pointless: Dr. Ahlstrom is not helping me one bit. Why? Because I do not need help--it's as simple as that (p. 22). So he doesn't want to make new friends or hang out with the kids at school--does that make him "troubled?" Of course not. But only Andy seems to understand that and accept him as he is.

Hautman draws the reader into the world he creates and holds them captive. One becomes as mesmerized with the model bridge Doug is building as he is; after a couple of rounds of counting by seventeens, this reader finds herself giving it a try. As the story unfolds, she begins to wish everyone would just get off Doug's back and let him build his models. Must everyone be popular, after all?

INVISIBLE is an excellent choice for readers who enjoy a bit of mystery with their realism, and Hautman is a master of words, only revealing "why" when the reader is least cognizant that there is even a question waiting to be answered.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At the age of seventeen-years-old, socialization skills was working against Douglas Hanson. For example, the girl that he likes thinks of him as a creep. Additionally, the other students has the same opinion about Douglas. Therefore, the students are intimidated around his presence and has the incentive to physically and emotionally harm or bully Dougie. To Dougie, none of those situations, and feelings towards him matters. He discerns that what is imperative to him is his best friends, Andy Morrow, and his hobby, working on his model railroad. Andy and Dougie converses, particularly during the nights, about anything they could think of, except about the escapade that occured at the Tuttle Place. Invisible, by Pete Hautman, lets readers grasp the message, that sometimes a recreation is an entertainment that can be a distraction to a painful reality that is trying to be made invisible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that the book gives a valuable lesson about other peoples talents and even if they're not popular they still have some kind of talents
Guest More than 1 year ago
Invisble was a riveting and powerful story about a loner and his friend Andy. Doug, is 17 years old, and has no friends except for Andy, a popular boy the same age who is involved in theatre, golf, and football. Doug's main fascination comes from trains, or model trains, which his basement is full of. He resorts to hours of tedious work perfecting his small homemade town when he isn't talking to Andy. Soon thoguh, trouble brews at school after Doug is caught spying on a popular girl there, and Andy seems to be around less and less to help him. How bad, or how much worse, anyway can it get for Doug?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a very depressing book but it was awesome and a thrilling experience. Right at the end of the book I was annoyed how they just left me hanging and I want to read more of Pete Hautman's books. To those who are reading this, I am forcing you to read this book. It is AMAZING DUDE!!! 'READ IT NOW'