Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
I’ve been meaning to re-read this book for a while, but because I had too many other books to read, I haven’t gotten around to it. I read this one last year and I’ve honestly lost count when I read this book and found comfort in its old and slightly yellowed pages. It’s already out of print, but I’m pretty sure this can be found in bargain bookstores. What book? It’s Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt.
It was around Valentine’s Day that Lissa started feeling invisible…
That’s when she sent out 31 Valentines and only got 8 back. Lissa didn’t have much trouble figuring out who was behind it all – Debra Dobbins. Although Lissa couldn’t stand her, she had to admit Debra had the whole class in her power.
Things started getting worse when Debra started a cheerleader’s squad and Lissa didn’t get in. But the last straw was the FUNCHY Club, Debra’s exclusive lunch group that Lissa’s best friend Katie had the nerve to join. That’s when Lissa decided she was tired of being invisible…and that it was time to show Debra that her days of being queen of the fifth grade were definitely numbered.
I remember spotting this book in one of those small Book Sale branches how many years ago — probably during freshman year in high school? I read a lot of middle grade fiction then, but I know I was reading more of Animorphs back then. I can’t really remember why I got this, except maybe because it was cheap. And I’m glad I got it. :)
I think the main reason why I liked this book so much was because I could relate to Lissa. Like her, I used to give everyone in my class gifts during our yearly Christmas party. Well, okay, not everyone, but all girls in my class since they’re easier to give gifts to. Like Lissa, too, I never got as many gifts as the ones I give out. It never bothered me, really, because I wasn’t spending for my gifts, anyway. It extended outside of the gifts too — I remember writing a retreat letter to everyone in my class. That was tiring. It’s a good thing everyone else felt the need to return a retreat letter if you wrote them one.
Invisible Lissa is a very smart middle grade (or is this kid?) fiction that deals with serious issues that kids experience in school and at home. There’s the normal school work, family issues and most importantly, bullying. I think the great cast of characters really helped that too. Lissa is a flawed but easy to relate to protagonist, and she’s hardly angsty so I know she wasn’t exaggerating any of her emotions. Debra Dobbins is the classic female bully, one who gets people to do the dirty job for her. The other characters were also a delight, from Joel (Lissa’s guy best friend) to Jason (Lissa’s younger brother) to Bernice the class drip and finally to my favorite character, Zack, who seemed like he liked Lissa, but it was never really revealed.
I don’t know how fifth grade is in the US, but I feel that this painted a pretty accurate picture. I liked how Lissa’s problems were resolved, because it didn’t involve any shouting match (does that ever happen in real life?) nor was it very clean cut that everything went in Lissa’s favor. Sure, it did work out for her, but there’s much to say at what could happen next.
I have yet to read this again to see if my opinions of its greatness has changed (seeing as I think I already outgrew middle grade fiction), but as of now, this still remains to be one of my favorite books. :)
My copy: paperback bargain copy (P35) from Book Sale
Cover: personal photo
Blurb: back of book