Review of How to Stay Invisible

How to Stay Invisible How to Stay Invisible
by Maggie C. Rudd
Middle School    Farrar    240 pp.
6/23    9780374390334    $17.99
e-book ed.  9780374390341    $10.99

“Most people didn’t live in hollowed-out trees behind their middle school,” but twelve-year-old Raymond does. A seventh grader at River Mill Middle School in North Carolina, he had lived in a rented trailer with his feckless parents three miles from school. But one day he comes home to discover that they have abandoned him, and now here he is living in the woods with his dog and doing his best to fly under the radar. He saves food from cafeteria lunches, does nighttime dumpster dives, and sometimes has luck fishing. He does have a new friend in Harlin, who in an act of kindness chooses as a bingo prize a sleeping bag for Raymond instead of the NASCAR tickets he’d wanted. Gradually, Raymond finds a circle of caring people (and a coyote) in his orbit: Lexi, his first girlfriend; Stigs, a former army surgeon who lives in a cabin nearby; and various teachers who don’t let Raymond remain invisible. The third-person narrative allows for fully realized secondary characters who play important roles in Raymond’s life and, ultimately, in his rescue. Rudd’s straightforward, meticulous prose perfectly captures the daily routines and occasional drama of life in the woods. A worthy match for My Side of the Mountain and Hatchet, the book Raymond checks out of the library toward the end of the novel.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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