Synopses & Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Gwen is preparing to audition for New York Citys top music schools when her grandfather mysteriously disappears, leaving Gwen only a phone message telling her not to worry. But theres nothing more stressful than practicing for her auditions, not knowing where her grandfather is, and being forced to lie about his whereabouts when her insistent great-uncle demands an audience with him. Then Gwen meets Robert, also in town for music auditions, and the two pair up to brave the city without supervision. As auditions approach and her great-uncle becomes more aggressive, Gwen and Robert make a startling discovery. Suddenly Gwens hopes are turned upside down, and she and Robert are united in ways neither of them could have foretold. . . .
"Clements hits no false notes in this beguiling sequel to Things Not Seen. Narrator Gwen left her West Virginia home two years earlier to live with her ailing grandfather in Manhattan to attend a music academy on scholarship. The disciplined 17-year-old plays her violin many hours each day, practicing for auditions for a prestigious music college. But her attention is diverted when she receives a phone message from Grampa, who says he is going away for awhile and that Gwen should carry on and tell no one about his disappearance especially his brother (who co-owns the building in which he and Gwen live and is trying to pressure Grampa into selling it). After she meets Robert (the temporarily invisible Bobby from Things Not Seen), Gwen senses she has found a kindred spirit in this kind, trumpet-playing teen who shares her musical aspirations. She tells him her secret and, after the two notice a man's shadow that has no visible body casting it, Robert confides to her the story of his experience turning invisible. The novel's mysterious strain reaches a crescendo when Robert, in a heartstopping scene, opens the basement freezer looking for steaks and finds something else instead. In her credible, likable voice, Gwen observes that she wants her complicated story to have a tidy ending with 'that wonderful last burst of symphonic harmony.' This haunting novel's denouement has just that. Not since Frindle has Clements's writing achieved such near perfect pitch. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Agent, Writers House." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In the much-anticipated follow-up to "Things Not Seen" brings readers a multilayered story all about art, friendship love, and life.
The much-anticipated follow-up to "Things Not Seen" is a multi-layered story about art, friendship, love, and life. Gwen's grandfather disappears; her audition at Julliard is coming up, and she and a fellow musician make a discovery that unites them in ways neither could have foretold.I
About the Author
Andrew Clements lives in Massachusetts.
Gwen is a very headstrong, motivated young girl. Were you anything like her growing up?
The short answer is no. I was an easygoing kid. I was the one who took two piano lessons and then begged my way out because all that practicing was eating into my putter-around-in-the-woods time. I don't think I met anyone similar to Gwen until I got to high school, although both of my sisters were remarkably bright and focused young women. But girls like Gwen, who already have a clear sense of what they want to do in life, who have that drive and focus and unbending determination, that's different. And more recently, more than one of our sons have become serious musicians, and one became involved in the Boston youth orchestra scene during his high school years. Watching him and his friends prepare for their college auditions at top music schools in New York and elsewhere provided most of the insights into that scene and Gwen's frame of mind.
What would you like young readers to learn from Gwen?
In both Things Not Seen and Things Hoped For the characters have to grapple with fear. Characters have to trust each other, and at the same time become more self-reliant. The characters recognize the power of love and unselfishness, and ultimately become more confident, more certain that being kind and good yields practical, dependable results. All I ever hope is that readers can see themselves or parts of themselves in the characters and get some insights into the process of establishing their own identity. Have I tried to write a hopeful story that emphasizes the possibility of doing good things in this life? Absolutely.
Gwen gains a new appreciation for her family as the story goes on. Do you think it takes leaving home for a person to realize how important family is?
I think most kids who've had a good family experience become aware of that, become grateful for that even before striking out on their own. But there does come a day when it becomes clear that those home benefits were not automatic or accidental. Those benefits were there because of the fierce love and constant care and unyielding effort of a parent or two. And there's a moment when that truth snaps into focus, and a young person looks back and sees how crucial that foundation has been--and then looks ahead and realizes that the responsibility for sustaining those values has now shifted. Gwen is at that tipping point.
Robert had been invisible for a period of time and in Things Hoped For he and Gwen encounter another invisible person. Of all supernatural occurrences why did you choose to make them invisible?
No one--or no one we know of--has had the actual experience of being invisible. But nearly everyone has felt neglected or ignored, passed over or rejected at some point. Invisibility is not a new idea. It's as old as humanity's first thinking about God, and it's a theme that's been present in literature for centuries. Recently, there's H.G. Wells' classic novel of the mad scientist who becomes even crazier because of the condition; there's Ralph Ellison's use of the metaphor to explore racism; and there are a number of movies that exploit this idea--some for comedy and some for thrills. In Things Not Seen I tried to imagine what the onset of unintentional invisibility would do to the life and thinking of a fairly normal fifteen year old kid. And in Things Hoped For, we meet a character who had the same condition occur, but whose response to it was radically different from Robert's. Think of all the words and phrases linked to visual experience that people use to describe their lives: Seeing something in a new light; getting a clearer view; having a vision; a sudden insight; a new vista opens up; blind to the problem; out of focus, and so on. Seeing, not seeing, not being seen--this is rich metaphorical territory, especially as young people--and everyone else as well--work to get a clearer sense of identity. I think every good story ought to rise to the level where it deals with questions of identity.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I like Jane Austen, Mark Twain, E. B. White, W.B.Yeats, Kipling, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Wise Brown, Hemingway, A.A. Milne. I admire some of John Grisham's work because I'm a big fan of well-crafted plots. Before I started writing longer fiction and actually had time to read more current children's and YA books, I read a lot of Avi's books along with my kids. I love Madeline L'Engle's work. I loved Edward Bloor's Tangerine. And then way off on the mountaintops there's the King James Bible, and the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary. But every list is too short.
What are you reading now?
I'm between books, which is really the only time I read--sad but true. I read The Kite Runner. I read State of Fear by Michael Crichton because I'd heard the uproar about the environmental ideas back when the book was first published. And on the recommendation of one of my sons, I'm reading A Painted House by John Grisham.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Read, think, write. Writing is hard work for everyone. And writing well is very hard work. The secret ingredient in the very best writing is time. The difference between writing that's okay and writing that's truly good amounts to small adjustments, fine tuning. And if you don't put in the time, you'll never reach that point where you begin to see what those fine adjustments should be. And don't accept the popular concept of writer's block. The truth is there's no such thing. A person with writer's block has accepted the idea that nothing could possibly happen next--which is simply not true. It is a fact of time and eternity that something ALWAYS happens next. And the writer's job is sit down, pick up the pencil or put fingers to keyboard, and make something happen next. Writing in that somewhat forced mode may not yield the perfect or the right next step in the story or article or novel, but it will lead you to the right idea. And you'll have proven that there's no blockage.
Have you started working on next book? Can you give us a sneak peek?
I'm about to begin the third book (the final book, I think) in the Things Not Seen sequence. All I know so far is that the story will be told by Alicia, who's blind, and the action will pick up where Things Hoped For ends. With Robert getting ready for college, Alicia has to think about her own future, and change is always scary. When it comes to the future, everyone's more or less blind. As with the other books, invisibility will be an element. But I think the real focus is always identity.