Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Translucent Boy and the Girl Who Saw Him is an epic fantasy novel for young adults written by Tom Hoffman. Being the translucent boy was all Odo Whitley had ever known. A seemingly random gift of perfume sent to his mother, Petunia, when she was pregnant sixteen years earlier, had come with the warning about the side effects possible with use during pregnancy. But the scent was her favorite of all, and the perfume’s name, Little Dove, was the pet name her father had given her. Surely it was a gift from him from beyond? Neither Petunia nor her husband, Albert, knew what Translucent Child Syndrome was, but Odo came to know what it was rather well. Being translucent meant being invisible, standing in the school bus rather than risk having a burly football player mistake your presence for an empty seat. That had happened once years before, and Odo had learned from that experience. No one could see him, and no one seemed concerned about that fact. His life consisted of being ignored and having to let people know that, yes, he was right there in front of them. His teachers were all too accomplished at making believe his desk in their classes was empty. No challenges were set before him, no one ever called on him for an answer.
Being translucent hadn’t meant being wise, as his father had mistakenly thought. Odo was fortunate at least in that he had intelligence and curiosity. While teachers droned on about subjects far below his capacity, he was able to continue his studies of neurophysiology undisturbed. He was also gifted with extraordinary peripheral vision, which was why in class one day he was stunned to realize that he was being stared at. No one had ever done that before. Sephie Crumb, she of the bright orange hair who had swiftly been dubbed Creepy Crumb by her crueler classmates, was intently studying his head. He figured he must be mistaken, but, then, as she left the classroom, the folded note she tossed on his desk confirmed the impossible -- she could see him.
The Translucent Boy and the Girl Who Saw Him is a wise and ineffably lovely coming of age tale that comes complete with vast galaxies, alien beings and a tasty helping of metaphysics as dessert. Watching Odo become complete, as it were, on becoming visible to Sephie is moving and unforgettable; following the two as they set off on amazing, terrifying and exhilarating adventures is an unforgettable experience. Odo and Sephie are marvelous characters; their interactions and their coming of age are joys to behold. Hoffman’s story is gorgeously written and a dream to read. Hoffman deftly toys with infinite possibilities and orchestrates the most amazing stories. Once again, he’s surprised and delighted me. The Translucent Boy and the Girl Who Saw Him is most highly recommended.