Summary: The Schwa was here is a story by Neal Shusterman about a boy named Calvin Schwa, or the Schwa as he is known, that has the unusual ability of being able to just blend in with the environment and go unnoticed by everyone around him. This is noticed by Antsy Bonano, who is the character we are seeing the book through, and his friends. They use Schwa’s “ability” for pranks and to make money. But one day, during one of their heists, they get caught by Mr. Crawly who forces them to work for him. One of the jobs is to escort his blind granddaughter and soon both Antsy and Schwa begin to grow feelings for her. Eventually Schwa, who is also looking for his mother, runs away in search for her. He eventually does find her as we get to see a happy ending for the boys.
Strengths: Despite Schwas “ability,” this book falls into the category of realistic fiction. The main characters are all teenage boys who live in a realistic world and do what teenage boys do. They play pranks and fall for the girl. Even the humor of the story can blend in well and doesn’t go over the top. Their are also consequences to their pranks, like when Mr. Crawly caught the boys and had them “pay off” what they have done. The subplot of Schwa searching for his missing mother works naturally with the idea of Schwa just blending in and being forgotten himself.
Connections to Text: The character of Schwa seems to be going through a rough patch in his life and not having a mother their (until the end) isn’t making things easy. When we look at Malslows Hierarchy of Needs, one can argue that he “blends in” with the environment because he hasn’t reached the level of “love and belonging” so to him, no one cares to see him. This seems to also be the reason he was fighting for Lexie, the blind granddaughter, affection. He wanted attention from someone. It is good to see that he has met up with his mother and will finally continue up in the Hierarchy of Needs.