Summary: Invisible, by Pete Hautman is the story of a young mentally ill boy named Doug Hanson, or Dougie. Despite being a strange boy, he manages to befriend another boy named Andy. Despite Dougie showing signs of mental illness, he and Andy still manage to get along. Dougie does things like stalking a girl he knows and he even makes a bomb threat. Later on in the book, after living a terrble night with a fire Dougie and Andy started, Dougie remembers that Andy died that night. Being haunted by that fact, Dougie sets fire to his train set and ends up in a burn unit with one friend, the invisible Andy that only he sees.
Strengths: Despite having a dark tone, this book would be considered realistic fiction. The setting is both realistic and modern and even the protagonist of the story, Dougie is believable. He has a mental illness but we could see that he struggles with it. He is able to become friends with someone popular, which is likes, but his friend ultimately ends up dying. Both the theme of friendship and the struggle of a mental illness, and the inclusion of grief and guilt makes the story a great realistic novel.
Connections to Text: When it comes to the development of teens, being socially accepted, or learning to get along with peers as Havighurst puts it, plays a huge role on who teenagers eventually become. That is why I believe that Dougies friendship with Andy was crucial to his development. Dougie has a mental illness and will probably not develop as he should. Especially now because of the burns he got at the end of the book. It’s difficult to say how much more he will develop, and to what extent, but this book focuses on huge parts of Dougies development.
Hautman, P. (2005). Invisible. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.