Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson is a middle grade graphic novel that tells the story of two girls: shy, quiet Emmie, and outgoing, social Katie. Emmie is having the absolute worst day of her seventh-grade life, while Katie is breezing through middle school like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Why is Emmie struggling so hard, and why do people like Katie seem to have it so easy?
This book was so many levels of relatable. In the beginning, Emmie explains that she isn’t one of the shy kids who is that way because she’s weird, or super smart, or has a disability of some sort. She just is and somehow, that’s worse. Like most introverts, Emmie has one close best friend, she feels best when she’s alone and has time to do what she loves (drawing and sketching) and she feels paralyzed by the idea of talking to other people. (We should all know by now that just because one is introverted does not mean that they also have social anxiety, but in Emmie’s case this happens to be true.)
On this particular day, something personal belonging to Emmie has been exposed to the school and she is suffering severe embarrassment. Juxtaposed is Katie’s story, which is illustrated in a different style than Emmie’s, and is oh-so-easy-breezy, showcasing the differences between both girl’s lives. Katie always has a gaggle of friends surrounding her, has a nice body and a cool phone and all the things that supposedly matter. How Emmie deals with this embarrassing moment, and the surprises along the way, are nothing short of inspiring. Emmie is a character you will sympathize with, perhaps identify with, and cheer on the whole story.
As far as graphic novels go, this one of my favorites in terms of aesthetics. Without traditional panels, it left more room for text in between drawings. I will definitely be reading more of Terri Libenson’s work.