by Pete Hautman
AR Test

At A Glance
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Doug Hanson is not normal and the kids at school know it. But that doesn’t stop Doug from having a crush on Melissa or from being best friends with Andy, a popular football player.

Doug spends his spare time creating a bridge out of matchsticks for the model railroad in his basement. The one thing that Doug looks forward to is when his neighbor Andy comes home, and they talk out of their bedroom window. It doesn’t matter that Doug and Andy don’t spend much time together; Doug knows that Andy will always be there for them.

When Doug gets caught watching Melissa undress in her bedroom, things take a turn for the worse.  Now Doug is a target of the football players, the police are watching him, and the principal is on his tail.  To make matters worse, his parents are thinking about putting him into a private school for students with emotional problems.

Invisible is an easy-to-read story that focuses on Doug’s difficulties. Towards the end of the story, mystery is added because Doug keeps alluding to something that happened in the past. In the end, this mysterious event gives the reader a surprise ending.

The author adds drama through Doug’s difficulties, but because Doug obviously has problems, it is sometimes hard to empathize with him. Even though Doug knows it is wrong, he spies on his crush, Melissa. Because of Doug’s actions and his disturbing thoughts, the reader can understand why other students do not like Doug.

Sexual Content 

  • Doug has a crush on Melissa. While at school he stares at her. During one scene he thinks about her body. “I wonder what her breasts look like? I happen to know that girls’ nipples come in different sizes and colors. I imagine Melissa’s being the small, pink variety.”
  • Doug likes to climb up a tree and watch Melissa in her bedroom. He watches her begin to undress, but does not see much. Melissa’s father catches Doug and runs him off the property.


  • Doug thinks about, “some Buddhist monks who poured gasoline over themselves and set themselves on fire. They did it to protest a war.”
  • Although there is no actual violence, Doug thinks about a conversation he had with Andy.  “Would you rather be strangled by a serial killer or devoured by rats? We both went with a serial killer.”
  • A group of “football goons” beat up Doug. “Freddie draws back on enormous foot and kicks me hard in the ribs, I curl up and try to roll way, but they are on me, three of them, kicking me from every side . . . One of them stomps on my chest; air hisses from my lungs.” Doug ends up in the hospital, but the boys are not punished.
  • While Doug is in the hospital he thinks about getting revenge. He wants to catch a rat and, “put it in a steel box with a hole against his body so that the only way for the rat to get out is to chew its way through Freddie’s’ stomach. Or I could soak his Nikes in gasoline and light them on fire while they are on his feet.”
  • Doug fills his railroad cars with the phosphorous and then watches them crash and catch on fire.  “I look up at the sky and see flames spreading across the basement ceiling . . . I am burning and I am blind and I can’t find the stairs . . .” Doug ends up in the burn unit.

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • There is one reference to “stoners” who attend school with the narrator.
  •  Doug takes Proloftin (or is supposed to). He doesn’t like the pills because they make him sleepy, but they help, “me being locked up at home and not being able to see Andy.” His psychiatrist and his parents keep asking him to take the pills, but he doesn’t.   


  • When the boys are beating Doug, he is called an “asshole,” a “perv” and a “goddamn peeper.”
  • Dough thinks about beating the “crap” out of someone.


  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • None
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