The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman.
Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Young Reader Group: NY, 2004.

Not quite science fiction, the story is offbeat and psychological. Antsy, Howe, Ira, and the Schwa himself investigate the Schwa Effect (his seeming invisibility). Four out of five people don't notice him standing right next to them. Not even when he stands in the bathroom with an orange sombrero and a cat costume and sings loudly. His dad can't tell when he's home, and he tends to slip people's minds even when they focus on him. Most people have moments of invisibility, but certainly not to this extent.

Is it genetic? The Schwa's mother disappeared from a grocery store when he was five, leaving him with a gaping, traumatic moment. Her story is another thing to be investigated in the hopes that the Schwa Effect might be reversible.

The boys penchant for exploration lands Antsy and the Schwa in trouble when they intrude upon Mr. Crawley's (a reclusive restaurant owner) domain. They are manipulated into community service to Mr. Crawley and befriend his granddaughter in the process.

The Schwa Was Here deals well with social issues without hitting you over the head with them. It has some depth, and levity with the quirky anecdotes of the boys' behavior. It is a quick but not light-weight read.

related-friendship, identity, self-perception, blind, helping others, befriending the antisocial, missing parent

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