Alyssa Hollingsworth wrote, The Invisible Boy, to highlight domestic slavery and trafficking which she writes about in the Author’s note at the start. However, this note acts as a spoiler as it’s not until about halfway through the book that it becomes apparent the type of slavery that is going on in the story.

Eli is fourteen years old and lives in Alexandria, near Washington DC. His father was taking drugs and became indebted to his dealer. Since he was unable to pay, he left his son with the dealer who became his adoptive mother. Eli is required to do domestic and gardening jobs to pay off his father’s debt. Eli doesn’t attend school, is undernourished and often physically abused.

Nadia Quick is twelve and dreams of being a journalist. She enjoys comics and superheroes. She lives in the same street as Eli but never sees him. She becomes aware of his presence when he rescues her dog from floodwaters in the local drain. Another boy called Kenny, who attends Nadia’s school, lives on the same street. Nadia initially doesn’t like him and calls him Paddle Boy because he broke a canoe paddle that belonged to Nadia’s family. (Later we discover this was an accident.)

After some weeks, Nadia and Kenny get to know Eli and his strange lifestyle. However, it’s not until Nadia attends the Newseum, a museum about the history of journalism, with her aunt that she learns about domestic slavery and she realises that Eli is a victim.

The Invisible Boy draws attention to the problem of slavery and how it can happen without detection in modern society. It shows the importance of noticing and reporting on situations where there could be incidents of trafficking. Alyssa Hollingsworth uses Nadia’s love of superheroes and comics to bring a lightness to an otherwise heavy subject matter. The book is well-written and plotted with a good message. It’s a believable story with relatable characters.

Thanks to Christian School Supplier for providing a free book for review.

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