Monday, November 5, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Schwa Was Here

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Title: The Schwa Was Here 

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: 2004

Genre: Young Adult 

Summary: Have you even met a person that you just can't remember? Maybe you know that they are there and just don’t pay attention to them or maybe you go through life and it isn't until some time later that you realize that they were right next to you the whole time and you never even noticed. For Antsy it's the latter, Calvin Schwa, or the Schwa as he is better known,  has sat next to him in school for years; always on time for class, always ready with the answers and always just waiting to be noticed. But there is just something about him that makes most peoples' eyes move right over him in a crowd or skip past him like he’s not even there when he is by himself. Everyone at school has heard of him of course, but he is one of those weird urban legends that you are never sure if they are real or not. Antsy never noticed him until the day he is given an unbearable plastic dummy by his dad who works in product development for a plastic company. On the day Antsy and his friends Howie and Irma go out to try and break Manny as they have dubbed him, they first really notice the Schwa and from that day on Antsy is curious to see how far being mostly invisible can be pushed before it finally gets noticed. It turns out pretty far. In a group of kids in a classroom, when counted, only 1 out of every 5 people notices the Schwa is there. Finally on a dare the Schwa goes into the realm of Crazy Old Man Crawley and turns out he is one of the people who can notice the Schwa just by looking around. As payment for not turning them over to the cops, Crawley has them walk his 14 dogs every day and what at first seems like the ruination of the boys summer turns out to be a lesson in both friendship and trust.

What I liked about it: I have read this book so many times and it gets better each time. Antsy with his straight forward Brooklyn attitude is an interesting first person narrator. The Schwa is also an interesting person in the way that he deals with his “invisibleness” and how it affects his life both before and after he becomes friends with Antsy. Of the other characters like Crazy Old Man Crawley, Antsy’s friends Howie and Irma, and Lexie, they are well developed and each interesting in their own ways.

Language: One of the things I try to do with these book reviews is find good clean books that parents don’t have to worry about their kids reading. As such almost none of the books have even light swearing and only a hint of romance. This books is a bit different. It has no inappropriate scenes but it does have some language, not a lot and not really anything super hard but it does have a few words that good little Christain me wouldn’t say. Its not anything that I would consider really bad but it is there. 

Romance: There is a not really a love triangle. One of the things Crazy Old Man Crawley has Antsy do is “date” his granddaughter Lexie while she is in town over the summer. Basically it's Antsy's job to take her to parks and museums and that sort of thing. Lexie is blind and yet can still tell whenever the Schwa is in the room. Because of this Schwa becomes interested in her and gets a bit jealous that Antsy gets to “date” her. In the end, Antsy realizes that he and Lexie are just friends, which for a YA book is really nice because a lot of them seem to make it feel like there has to be a romance in every book and having a book where and guy and girl are just friends is really nice.

Violence: Manny the plastic dummy “dies” in several different ways over the course of the story at the boys try and break the unbreakable plastic but its never graphic and even when he finally breaks it is like whatever because he is just plastic.

Magic: None 

Recommended Age: Antsy and his friends are in their mid teens and I feel like to really appreciate the book and its themes and plot you really have to be at least 14-15. However, that being said, the themes of appreciating everyone you know and friendship and all that are good things that can be learned or relearned at any age so there I really no top age for when you can read this book. 

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

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