Word Spelunking

Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible - Suzanne Kamata Suzanne Kamata's Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible is a charming and quirky YA Contemporary book with a unique and memorable main heroine.Fourteen year old Aiko lives in Michigan with her artist mother. Aiko has cerebral palsy and has long been the subject of her mother's famous artwork, but Aiko wants to be known for her manga art. Gadget Girl is Aiko's secret manga creation, featuring a heroine that Aiko believes she will never be (beautiful and brave). Aiko longs to visit Japan, the Manga capital of the world, and also the home of the father she has never met. But when her mother wins an art contest in Paris, Aiko must spend her summer in France. A cute French waiter with a love for manga of his own and an interest in Aiko, changes the way Aiko sees both herself and her mom.Suzanne Kamata has crafted a cute and heartfelt story about family, acceptance, and first serious crushes. With a fun French setting, thoughtful mother/daughter relationship, and the neat manga infused elements, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible is certainly an entertaining, quick read.Kamata is an effective and enjoyable storyteller, who has given her story a great deal of heart and depth. Aiko's cerebral palsy and the ways it affects her life and self image, and her complicated and realistic relationship with her mother make for an often poignant story. Kamata doesn't sensationalize Aiko's cerebral palsy or use it to play on readers' sympathies, nor does her disability define Aiko's character, which I really appreciated. This is a very character driven story and, while her cerebral palsy doesn't define Aiko, it does give her a unique and refreshing voice. For the most part, I really liked Aiko and her wry, honest observations. At times though, I found her anger and resentment toward her mother, and her almost reverent way of thinking about the father she never met, to be too much and hard to relate to.I really liked Aiko's love of manga and the fact that she has created her own manga series, Gadget Girl. And Gadget Girl herself is a pretty cool character. All the manga love and appreciation adds such a fun geeky coolness to the story.I really like the fun French setting, which Kamata paints beautifully. And who doesn't love cute, sweet French boys?! Herve makes for an adorable and likable major crush for Aiko. Aiko is only fourteen so the fun flirting between these two never goes further than the butterflies in your stomach, holding hands, and innocent kisses kind of flirting. But I liked the interaction between the two teens and how Herve has a positive impact on Aiko's self esteem.The story itself moves a bit slowly and needs tightening to remove unnecessary filler, and I would have liked to have seen Aiko get more closure where her absent father is concerned. But the ending is heartwarming and made me smile.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible is an enjoyable and thoughtful read with a likable main character and some fun elements.

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