Review of Invisible

Invisible Invisible
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez ; illus. by Gabriela Epstein ; color by Lark Pien
Middle School     Graphix/Scholastic    208 pp.         g
8/22     978-1-338-19455-5     $24.99
Paper ed.  978-1-338-19454-8    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-19456-2    $7.99

Gonzalez and Epstein’s compelling graphic novel opens with five students from Conrad Middle School sitting in the principal’s office. They assume they’re in trouble but aren’t sure why—the why they’re actually there is uncovered through flashback scenes from each of the kids that form the story’s narrative. Originally, the five were grouped together for early morning cafeteria clean-up duty because of a misperception about in-common Latin heritage, but none of the kids identifies primarily as Latine. Jorge (he prefers George) is American and Puerto Rican; Nico is Venezuelan; Miguel is Dominican; Dayara is Cuban; and Sara is Mexican. Gonzalez uses a mix of English and Spanish (and Spanglish) in her narrative, highlighting how assumptions about language and academic ability based on ethnic origin are inappropriate and often false. The story ably explores the concept of diversity within the Latin community, including national origin, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, debunking the harmful myth that the Latin diaspora is monolithic. At the same time, each of the students is challenged to make sense of their internal and external personas—a universal experience for middle schoolers. The vivid, nuanced illustrations feature bold colors and dynamic movement and enhance character development. In the end, the real reason the kids have been summoned is a surprise to them all—and a heartwarming model of selflessness and community building.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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