The Schwa Was Here by Neal Schusterman

Finding Your Way Through January
We all are faced with decisions that we don't want to make, decisions that affect the course of our lives. Each of these books deals with making a tough decision, and then dealing with the consequences of that choice.

Antsy (or Anthony) is a pretty average kid. Sure, sometimes he feels invisible, but he's got a few good friends, and a family that loves him. One day when he and his friends are out trying to destroy a test dummy at his dad's request, he first encounters "the Schwa effect". One minute, it's just the three of them. Next thing he knows, this kid Calvin Schwa has suddenly appeared in their midst. He seems like a pretty nice kid, even if he is a little odd. But then, where did he go again? Oh, he was right there all along...

They decide to test his "Functional Invisibility", and it turns out that the Schwa really does get overlooked, even when he tries to stand out. They put their theory to good use and start a "Schwa for Hire" business, with Antsy as Calvin's manager. Pretty soon they are making money spying on people, sneaking in overdue homework, accepting dares, and then...they get the really Big dare. Some dumb jock wants them to sneak into Old Man Crawley's place and steal one of his dog's bowls. Crawley is a local legend, an infamous, rich, grouchy recluse with 14 dogs. Piece of cake, right?

After Crawley catches them, he threatens to call the police. They agree to come and walk his dogs as restitution, and that is how Antsy and the Schwa meet Lexie. Crawley hires Antsy to keep his granddaughter entertained. When they meet, Antsy realizes that Lexie is blind. Of course, she never has a problem 'seeing' the Schwa. The three of them form an unlikely triangle, which culminates in each of them learning a painful, but necessary life lesson. Together they untangle the Schwa's past. In the end, the Schwa gets his notoriety in the most unlikely of ways. Fun read, touching and sweet, will appeal to guys and reluctant readers. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author, and very entertaining.

If you liked this, check out:

Schusterman, Neal. (2004). The Schwa Was Here. Dutton Children's Books: New York, NY.

Schusterman, Neal. (2008). The Schwa Was Here [audiobook]. Random House/Listening Library: New York, NY.

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