Sometimes the way home is hard to find...
Gabriella Midwinter used to have a home. She wasn't invisible back then. "What's strange is that the day it actually happened, everything seemed so normal." Caught between arguing parents and moving house, twelve-year-old Gabriella somehow slips through the cracks. Now she's more alone than ever before. The city streets are no place for young girls but they're all she's got. Unless she can find her brother Beckett. Unless she can find her home.
Read an extract from Invisible Girl
When it happened...
Dad’s been weird since asking Amy to marry him. He’s gone quieter than ever, drifting round the flat like a wisp-thin ghost. Amy’s got louder and bossier, like one of those Salvador Dali paintings from my book, all twisted and unpredictable. She’s spending our money on things for the wedding every single day. She’s bought two dresses already so she can choose. But we’re not allowed to see. She shuts herself in Dad’s room with her friends and they coo over them like they were kittens. She’s bought special silky underwear and these pearly shoes that shimmer. She got Dad this smart grey suit with a pink silk shirt and a purple cravat and he says he feels like a turkey all trussed up for Christmas. I’m more invisible than ever. No one’s speaking to me. They wouldn’t even notice if I never came home.
Amy’s the only important one round here. She’s high up, towering above us like a queen, making up all the rules. And I’m getting so used to being invisible that I’m shocked when Mrs Evans tells me I got an A+ for my still-life art project. She says my painting stands out from the crowd and it’s going on the special display board for Parents’ Evening for everyone to see. Dad won’t see it, because he never bothers with Parents’ Evening, but I run home quick to whisper my news to Blue Bunny.
“Here,” says Amy, shoving an envelope in my hand when I get to the top of the stairs. She’s standing by our front door with her sunglasses propped up on her head. “Take it, quick. I’ve got to go.”
She squints from the sunlight and pulls her mirrored sunglasses down so I can’t see her eyes.
“And take this,” she says, dropping a bulging backpack on the ground in front of me. “We put as much of your stuff in as we could.”
“Amy,” I say. “What are you on about?”
“It’s all in the envelope,” she says. “Your dad’s written everything down. Come on, quick, give me your key to the flat.”
I stare at the white envelope, my name scrawled across the front in Dad’s loopy handwriting. I stare at the fat backpack on the ground.
“Why do you need my key?” I say. “I need it to get in. Come on, Amy, I’m desperate for a wee.” Then it dawns on me.
“Oh, no! Did someone break in again?” I ask. “Did Dad have to change the locks?”
“No, dummy,” says Amy, waggling her hand in front of my face. “Look, Gabriella, I did you a favour waiting for you; you should be grateful. I was worried someone might nick your stuff and then you’d be stranded. Anyway, we need to give your key back to the landlord. Your stupid dad forgot to pay the rent. Stupid fat bum he is!”
My tummy sinks to the ground and a red rage blazes inside me.
“I knew this would happen,” I screech. “It’s all your fault. Dad’s not stupid he’s just kind. Mum used to trample all over him just like you do and it’s not fair. We were OK before you came along. I told him we mustn’t spend all the money. It’s gone on that stupid wedding stuff you got!”
She tutts and checks her watch.
“Gabriella,” she says, “I’ve had enough of listening to you gabble on about stuff. It’s not important. You’re not important. I tried to be a good mother to you and make your life better, but what thanks do I get, eh? Anyway, you’re not my problem any more.”
I fumble in my bag for the key, my hands fluttering like leaves.
“What are we going to do?” I say. “Where are we going to live?”
“Just be a good girl for once in your tiny life, stop asking questions and give me the key,” she sneers. “Everything’s explained in the letter. But think about it, Gabriella, your dad’s not that kind, is he? He’s known about the eviction for a few weeks now. If he was that much of a kind guy he’d have told you all about it. If he was that nice he’d have been waiting here to give you your bag. He’d have put you on the train and kissed you goodbye himself.”
Her words hit me like a car, spinning me through the air, rocking me sideways. “Wh… what…” I stammer. “What train?”
“I told you,” she says. “I haven’t got time to stand here and explain it all. You’re going on a train to your mum’s and we’re catching a plane to somewhere exotic. Yay!”
She waggles her fingers in my face again, her big fat diamond engagement ring glinting in the sun.
“I’m the lucky one!” she sings. “I always have been and always will be, you’ll see!” Then she turns and runs down the stairs, her sandals clicking and clacking on the concrete.
“And,” she shouts up at me, “don’t get yourself into trouble, Gabriella, OK?”
I lean over the edge of the balcony. “Amy!” I shout. “Where’s Dad? I don’t understand! You can’t just leave me!”
Then a smart car with a taxi sign on top screeches to a halt outside our flat. Dad’s in the back, his face turned away from me. Amy jumps in next to him. Everything’s going in slow motion like it sometimes does in films.
“Dad!” I shout, racing down the stairs, my tummy dangling off strings, twisting and turning in knots. “Dad, what’s going on?”
He doesn’t even look at me; the taxi driver flashes the indicator light and zooms away. I run after them, calling ‘Dad’ over and over, but I can’t catch up and the car disappears round the corner and gets lost in the stream of traffic.
Back up the stairs I pull my phone out of my bag and call him. It goes straight through to answer phone without ringing and so does Amy’s. I know they won’t answer, I know they’ve gone, but I can’t stop pressing the green button over and over and over, my shaky thumbs slipping and sliding on the keys.
“What’s all the racket this time?” says Mrs McKlusky, shuffling along the balcony in her tartan slippers. She stops dead in her tracks and pins me down with her eagle eyes. “What you doing here anyway? Your dad said you was moving. I saw him heaving all your stuff out this morning. He made a right old mess of everything and then upped and left. Nonsense, it is, leaving us to clean up after him.” She clacks her teeth on her tongue. “Utter nonsense.”
My heart flaps inside me, a caged owl with frantic wings.
“I errrrm,” I say, stuffing my phone in pocket. “I errrrm, I forgot we’d moved, that’s all, Mrs McKlusky. I’m off to meet my dad and Amy now. At our new place. Bye!”
I pick up the backpack and my school bag and quickly scoot back down the stairs. When I get out on to the road I keep my eyes on the ground. I don’t want to see anyone; I don’t want anyone to see me. I don’t want to talk. I just keep walking and walking, clutching the chalk-white envelope in my hand.
And when I’m far away from our flats, far, far away from Mrs McKlusky’s beady spy eyes, I find a bench and sit down. My hands are shaking. My shoulders are aching from the really heavy bags. I stare at the envelope. I stare at Dad’s handwriting scrawled in huge letters across the front. Gabriella.
I trace my finger over the blue biro shapes. He didn’t put a kiss. He didn’t even underline it. I pull out my phone and press the green button again and again and again. I listen over and over to his voice. “Hi, Dave here, I’m off on me hols, so don’t leave a message as I won’t be getting back to you anytime soon… Hi, Dave here, I’m off on me hols, so don’t leave a message as I won’t be getting back to you anytime soon.”
I slip my finger in the envelope and open it a tiny bit. But then panic freezes me; my heart bangs loudly and I stare at Dad’s handwriting for ages. What did Amy mean about going to Mum’s? We don’t even know where she lives, we haven’t heard from her for years. I don’t even want to see her. I don’t want to read the stupid letter. And I’m not going to Mum’s either. No one can make me. They can’t.
I fold the envelope carefully and tuck it away in my bag.
I’m starving. I forgot to take my lunch to school and I need the toilet really badly. I pull my Maths homework out and stare at it to distract myself. The fractions keep swirling on the page and turning into Amy’s words. They make my heart pound in my ears and my face and hands drip with sweat. You’re going on a train to your mum’s! You have to go to your mum’s! To your mum’s!
Watch The Videos
What people are saying about Invisible Girl
"Invisible Girl is absorbing, captivating & satisfying. I LOVED it! A thought-provoking, wonderful reading experience... ps you owe me a box of tissues, Kate!" Annie Everall-
I started this just before bed, intending to read a couple of chapters, see what it was all about, and then go to sleep. Before I knew it I had tears streaming down my face, I was at the end of the book and it was very early hours in the morning.
I didn't expect much when I picked it up. I certainly knew that I wasn't the targeted audience. The main character, Gabriella, is twelve and the target audience seems to be between there and 15 at a guess. At 20, i'm a bit out of that range. But wow, this novel deals with such a heavy issue that I think anyone could and should read it.
With regards to the writing itself, it is a very easy book to read. The narrative flows and the pages almost turn themselves.
But the story. My god, the story. I knew it was never going to be easy, reading a novel about homelessness, but I never quite realised how hard it was going to be either.
Gabriella's emotions and suffering pierced though the pages with brutal force. I spent a lot of time having to put the book down for a few moments when the pages got too blurry to read through tears.
I felt shocked, upset and frustrated reading this, at some points I had to stop myself from throwing the book at a wall in a rage for justice.
It's incredibly eye opening, I challenge anyone to read this and not want to do something to help those who are homeless and in need, failed by the system that's supposed to keep them safe.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It's books like this that turn a persons mind around and spurs them into action. Nicola Dec 2013
The book is amazing! It draws your attention and you just can't put it down. It's emotional but great story. So sad. So good. Lucy 2013
This book was really good read It was a heart warming story that brought tears to my eyes. When I started reading it I just couldn't put it down. I would definitely recommend this book. Great read! Janet Cooper 2013
Great! I love Kate Maryon's stories and this one doesn't disappoint! I would definitely recommend this book to everyone! It is great. M Davies 2014
“Kate Maryon’s characters stay with you long after the book is finished.” Jenny Valentine
“If you like Jacqueline Wilson then you will definitely like this. The main character’s story is so moving you feel as if you are about to cry!” - Kate, age 10
“This is a book that is hard to put down without finishing! “ - Lucy, age 10
“The best book I ever read” - Somaya, age 12
My daughter and I read this together (she's 9). We both really looked forward to our evening reading time while we were reading this. Mini Money Saver 2014
My 10 year old daughter really enjoyed reading this on her kindle app after I bought it whilst browsing the store for myself. She describes it as a book that she 'could not put down' and related the story back to me. Would recommend. Jane Austen 2015
A heartrending story of children brought into the world by irresponsible parents, of lessons never learned by the offenders and the heart wrenching story of the neglect of the kids. Overworked and understaffed and underfunded social workers most of whom do a remarkable job with little or no support from government. This story is well written and thought out, it grabs the reader from the start to the end. All I can say is thank God for big brothers who take responsibility when their parents won't!!! P Nelson 2015
What a fantastic book! At first I wasn't sure if it would be suitable for my !0 year old. But it was perfect. A great story, which will pull on the heart strings, with a happy ending. Little T 2015
I loved it it felt like you were really Gabriella Midwinter and in some parts i was screaming at the book because she did not tell anyone about whats happening in her life! Gracie 2015
Best Book Ever!!! This book is the best book I've ever read in my life!! It's even better than the Diary of a Wimpy kid books. I highly recommend this book , it's definitely worth the money! Angela 2014
A Gripping book! I loved reading this book be cause every night when I read it I couldn't put it down I felt so sorry for Gabriella when she went through living in the street but she really did deserve the happy ending she got all together it was a brilliant gripping book. Sophie 2014
Amazing book! This book was really good read It was a heart warming story that brought tears to my eyes. When I started reading it I just couldn't put it down. I would definitely recommend this book. Great read! Janet Cooper 2014