February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson | SLJ Review

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redstarANDERSON, M.T. Landscape with Invisible Hand. 160p. Candlewick. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763687892.

Gr 9 Up –The vuvv came in peace, offering new technology and life-changing medical breakthroughs. Yet their presence on Earth has slowly eroded Adam Costello’s small town. Joblessness, illness, and food scarcity are the realities of his shaky existence, and his only solace is in his painting. When Adam begins to date Chloe, they realize that there’s a moneymaking opportunity in their relationship. Taking advantage of the vuvv’s fascination with 1950s-era American life, Adam and Chloe plan to film themselves going on old-fashioned dates. The aliens are willing to pay top dollar to watch these episodes. But the teens’ love soon turns to animosity, and their grand plan holds dire implications for their families. This sharp, compelling, slim volume packs a punch. Anderson’s vivid world could be a mirror for many American communities today. Poverty and its impact on food, health, and daily life are rendered in stark detail. Adam’s passion for painting and his idealism in the face of the commercialistic vuvv are a moving nod to the power of art to transform lives. Despite the heavy subject material and pervading sense of doom, the book ends on a hopeful note, making this a solid choice for a variety of readers. VERDICT An engrossing, speculative look at life in the margins, this is a first purchase for libraries serving teens.–Erinn Black Salge, Morristown-Beard School, NJ

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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