The Invisible Girl ISBN: 9780007466900
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013
If there ever was a dysfunctional family, then Gabriella's is it! She and her feckless dad have lived together for seven years, ever since her abusive mum left, taking Beckett, Gabriella's older brother with her. But now that Amy has moved in with her dad and is as bad as the mother who left, Gabriella is well and truly in a sad fix. This long and very descriptive novel deals with a 12 year old child who is abandoned by her dad in order to fly off with his new girl friend to get married. He leaves a letter behind, telling her to go to Manchester to stay with her mum, along with some money for her train fare. Gabriella's youth and naivety is apparent by her need for Blue Rabbit her toy-cum-security blanket and whom she depends on for support. Arriving in Manchester, Gabriella soon discovers that her mum has remarried and has two further children, and that her tactics with her new family are very much like the old. Deciding not to introduce herself back to her mum, she ends up on the streets, and her adventures there are horrific in the extreme. She comes across a cadre of other homeless children with whom she makes friends and is soon in the midst of drug-taking, prostitution (although this is indicated rather than explained in detail) and theft. One of the girls who has been sympathetic to her problems makes Gabriella help her break into a house and steal, and Gabriella begins to realise that these friends are not going to be able to help her. Finding her brother is her obsession, but no one seems to know where he is or anything about him. At the end of her tether, she is finally picked up by the police and taken to her mum's house, where she is not welcome. Her small brother and sister are pleased to see her though, and she learns to love them and look after them in ways their mum never could. Her real mum and dad never learn their lesson, and while Gabriella loves her dad, she has come to know that both of her parents are only interested in themselves and not in her or her wellbeing. This complex and very gritty novel has a happy ending - perhaps too much so - but one is glad for Gabriella and can only hope that other street children will find their happy ending too. Tough and hard to stomach at times, the novel shows life on the streets and in a dysfunctional family as the horror it can be, and only a truly resourceful child can overcome those horrors. Supported by The Big Issue Foundation and Railway Children charity.