cover image Invisible

Invisible

Christina Diaz Gonzalez, illus. by Gabriela Epstein. Graphix, $24.99 (208p) ISB

Middle schooler Jorge “George” Rivera, an American student of Puerto Rican descent, just wants to keep his head down until he can get into a high school magnet program. When he’s called into the principal’s office about the school’s community service initiative, he’s worried that the administration knows he’s recently moved outside the school district with his single mother, who’s experiencing financial precarity. But the principal, portrayed as Black and obsessed with winning an annual award for the initiative, tells George that he can carry out his service hours in the cafeteria, alongside “students like you.” Though he doesn’t speak much Spanish, George finds himself assigned as translator for a disparate group of kids—tough-seeming Dayara, who is Cuban; Dominican jock Miguel; rich kid Nico, who’s Venezuelan; and loner Sara, who’s Mexican. When the group meets an unhoused family, though, they come together to provide assistance in their own way. Alternating flashbacks among the five students, Gonzalez (Concealed) clearly shows how each kid—all characterized distinctly and with complexity—is more than others’ assumptions. Epstein’s expressive contemporary style brings the characters’ singular experiences to the forefront in a story that largely focuses on its child protagonists finding community over change among its biased adults. Creators’ notes conclude. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Chelsea Eberly, Greenhouse Literary. (Aug.)