Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review of Invisible Girl

Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 27, 2010
ARC received through Blog It Forward Tours
My Rating:

Goodreads says, "When poor Boston girl Stephanie is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie’s Beverly Hills family, she feels anything but home. Her dark complexion and accent stick out like a sore thumb in the golden-hued world of blondes and extravagance. These are girls who seem to live life in fastforward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause. Yet when a new rival moves to town, threatening Annie’s queen-bee status, Stephanie finds herself taking sides in a battle she never even knew existed, and that feeling invisible is a wound that can only be healed by standing up for who she is.  Brilliant newcomer Mary Hanlon Stone delivers a compulsively readable insider’s view of growing up in a world where money and privilege don’t always glitter."

Stephanie is a character that you truly feel for. You immediately start off wanting to protect and help her, because Mary Hanlon Stone, right away, puts us in the center of the action.  Stephanie is abused by her alcoholic mother and although she has a father, he is useless and apathetic.  He sits by and allows Stephanie to be treated this way.  Stephanie's mother ends up deserting her and since her father is helpless, he sends her off to his brother's friend's house in Beverly Hills until he can get things sorted out.  Apparently the family in Beverly Hills owes Stephanie's dad's brother a favor, so they take Stephanie in.  Stephanie is now immersed in another world.  A world where fashion, dieting, and looks are paramount.....think Laguna Beach.  Annie, the daughter of the wealthy family in Beverly Hills, is the stereotypical mean girl that is completely self-absorbed.  Annie's friends are no better; they are conniving, scheming and superficial beyond belief.  As the story progresses, we watch Stephanie assimilate into their world.   She has to make some important decisions that are character building and some of her decisions aren't easy to read about.  All in all, Mary Hanlon Stone's debut novel, Invisible Girl, is a compelling read that teaches its readers many lessons about life.  

There were parts of this novel that broke my heart.  To think that some teenagers have to deal with abuse, whether physically or emotionally, on a daily basis is distressing to me.  Stone truly captured, in my opinion, what life may be like for teenagers subjected to abuse.  It was a real eye-opener and a reminder that we don't always know what someone else may be dealing with or going through.  Another part of this novel that was hard to take were the mean girls, specifically Annie, who is the Queen Bee.  Stephanie feels completely out of place and inadequate when in comparison to the  quintessential California girls.  I personally wanted to stand up to Annie and pretty much rip her to shreds as it was hard to sit by and watch her treat Stephanie poorly.  The interaction between the mean girls and Stephanie was a perfect portrayal of bullying and how females can be passive aggressive.  Teenage girls are notorious for their passive aggressive/emotional bullying and I felt Stone was dead on.  It was even harder for Stephanie to take, because she has no support, from anyone, until she meets one good friend in the novel.  (This "good friend" ends up being one of my favorite characters, but I don't want to spoil too much for you!)

I enjoyed Stone's writing style, dialogue, and character development.  Invisible Girl touches on controversial issues such as, abuse, alcoholism, sexuality, bullying, peer pressure, underage drinking, etc.  With that said,  it has a strong message for all teenagers.  It illustrates the benefits of having a true friend in your life and how it's important to stand up for yourself and for what you believe in.    Readers will watch Stephanie evolve and learn these hard lessons for herself.  

I didn't give this book four out of four stars, because I was a tad disappointed with the ending. I think it was a bit rushed.  I also didn't care for the constant attention to puberty.  I am sure that this may be the case for many teenagers, but it was a bit too much for me....very Judy Blume-ish.  Lastly, I have been getting many comments concerning the cover and whether or not it has been whitewashed.  The cover for the ARC I read actually is quite different.  The girl has dark hair and olive skin, which is how Stephanie is depicted in the story.  However, the cover on the book above does seem whitewashed a bit, which is particularly disappointing.  What do you guys think?  Maybe it wouldn't look so whitewashed if we could see her dark hair?  All in all, I think this is an interesting debut from Mary Hanlon Stone and I'm sure many adolescent girls will enjoy and learn from Stephanie's journey.

Pre-order the Book Here:


  1. Dear Christina, I want you to know that I really appreciate the time you've taken to review my book and the analysis involved in your review. I found your comments thoughtful and insightful. I direct many teens that I mentor in my young authors group to your site so they can learn from your critiques. I have learned much from them as well and I will continue to do so. Happy reading!
    Mary Hanlon Stone

  2. wait, is Judy Blume-ish a bad thing.
    Anyhow, this book sounds intense. Thanks for the review!

  3. Mary,
    Thank you so much for visiting my website and reading my review. You just made my day; it really means a lot to me. Wow! Thank you for sharing my site with the teens that you mentor. That's incredible! I am honored. I really enjoyed your book and I will be recommending it to my students. I look forward to reading more of your books in the future! Thanks again, Mary!

  4. Brizmus- haha! Judy Blume is definitely not a bad thing. :)

  5. Wow, there have been so many books that have 'whitewashed' covers in the past year or so (although, one is too many, isn't it?).

    I like the core message of true friendship (honesty) and standing up for yourself and what you believe in ... I'm going to look at INVISIBLE GIRL for my young teen.

  6. Great review, and it does sound heartrending. I just added it to my TBR list.

  7. What a thoughtful review! I think you are brave to read this because it can be hard confronting the abuses that pupils face. I'm not sure I'm brave enough. I really admire the author for tackling this issue. I agree that the cover doesn't fit your description of the character. When will publishers learn?
    How sweet of the author the comment! I can tell it meant so much to you.

  8. Wow, what a fantastic review! One can clearly see your sincerity in your critique of "Invisible Girl" but it is also clearly evident how much you liked the book. This is such a tough subject and I think it is admirable of the author to approach it. In doing so, may girls who have to deal with this day after day can be helped . Good job!

  9. Thanks for the comments, guys! I really appreciate it.


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