Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Things hoped for

Things hoped for by Andrew Clements, 2006

It has always seemed to me that one of the amusing and painful contradictions of teenage-hood is the intense desire to blend in to the crowd and be like everyone else -- pitted against the fear of not being noticed or being socially "invisible." In Things Not Seen, Andrew Clements cleverly played on this mindset when his protagonist, Bobby, wakes up one morning and discovers he is invisible. The clever plot spins out the problems and freedoms that result from Bobby's condition. Things Not Seen one of my favorite books to recommend to YA readers.

In Things hoped for we hear the first person narrative of Gwen, a gifted violinist who has moved to NYC to attend a private high school for the performing arts on the East side. She lives with her grandfather in his brownstone home. As a senior, she is preparing for her auditions to Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music when her grandfather disappears. Grampa has written her a letter explaining that he has to go away for a little while. He details instructions for writing checks and using the ATM card when she needs money and then asks/begs her to keep his absence a secret from everyone.

So, Gwen continues to attend class and practice her music while keeping this strange turn of events from her family in West Virginia and from her grandfather's scary and menacing brother who keeps turning up and demanding to talk to Grampa.

Although she is very self sufficient and spends most of her time practicing, the sense of "alone-ness" is beginning to get to her when she meets Robert in a coffee shop. Robert is a trumpet player and they recognize each other from the previous summer's Tanglewood Institute. A senior like Gwen, Robert is in NYC for his own round of auditions to music school.

As Gwen shares the secret of her grandfather’s disappearance, Robert shares a secret from his own past with her. Together they realize that mysteries will not leave you alone especially when your only desire is to practice, practice and practice for your auditions.

The storyline pulled me in completely. I also thoroughly enjoyed the knowledgeable discussions of music. Aspiring musicians will enjoy the book and its view of life in NYC as a music student. As a parent who has paid for a barge full of music lessons, I applauded Gwen’s and Robert’s work ethic and practice schedule! This is a gotta-have-it for fans of Things Not Seen.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I'm interested in this title for sure!

Camille said...

If you have read Things Not Seen you will really enjoy it I think.

Unknown said...

Thanks! This will really help me when im doing my book report. I read the book i just forgot alot of it. :-)