Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible by Suzanne Kamata
Publication: May 17th 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
“ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS meets STONER AND SPAZ”
“Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother’s muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity. When Aiko’s mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She’d much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.
Gadget Girl began as a novella published in Cicada. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction and was included in an anthology of the best stories published in Cicada over the past ten years.”
“Friday, sixth period. I’m sitting at my table, waiting for Art to begin. Normally, this would be my favorite class, but today I just want it to be over with. My stomach is going through the spin cycle, and my left arm is jerking, like it does when I get nervous.
I look away from the door, trying to distract myself.
Mr. Hodge, the art teacher, has taped our last assignment – tissue paper collages in shades of blue – all over the walls. Kind of a lame project, if you ask me, though Madison Fox managed to make hers look like a hydrangea. I pasted my blue tissue paper squares in the shape of handprints and called the collage “My Father’s Hands.” Although Mr. Hodge frowned when I told him the title, I got an A. But truly, tissue paper is not my medium. I’m a pen-and-ink kind of girl.
The bell rings, and in stumbles Chad Renquist, male model and class heartthrob. His last big gig was modeling running gear for the catalog of a sporting goods store in Grand Rapids. He’s not the kind of guy you’d figure would choose art as an elective, but then again, his work is pretty good. Maybe he’s a closet Picasso. His collage is a fairly convincing self-portrait: “Blue Chad.”
Mr. Hodge likes to make an entrance. He goes off to the faculty lounge between classes and changes his smock or whatever, then waits till we’re all seated before he
bursts through the door. He comes in today with a magazine in one hand and slowly surveys the room.
“Good afternoon, my minions,” he booms. “Today, as you may recall, we have a special guest.”
I sink down in my seat. My left arm starts to spaz a little, so I grab onto it with my right hand.
“Laina Cassidy has agreed to come in today and talk to us about sculpting.” At this point, he opens the magazine, which just hit the newsstands days ago, and holds it up to show us Mom, posing in her studio. She’s wearing an evening gown and clutching a chisel. Her face is buried under gobs of make-up and her hair is messy, but perfect. It’s so staged.
“That’s Aiko’s mom?” Jason Tran blurts out. His family moved here last fall from Muskegon. He’s probably the only one in this class who’s never seen my mother. He looks from the magazine to me and back again, his mouth hanging open in surprise.
I get that a lot. Strangers often assume I’m adopted because we look nothing alike. My eyes and hair are dark, and my forehead is sort of broad. Also, I’ve got short, thick eyebrows which I definitely didn’t inherit from the Cassidy side of the family.
Suddenly everybody’s looking at me. I grab my arm tighter and will myself to disappear. Mr. Hodge, get control of your class.
He must mind-read because he loudly clears his throat, drawing everyone’s attention away from me. “Laina is very, very busy,” he says, “so we’re lucky that she was willing to take time out of her schedule to share with us today.”
I smirk. Believe me, it doesn’t take much to get “Laina” into a classroom. And I’m guessing that Mr. Hodge’s reasons for inviting her to speak to our class are beyond just exposing us to educational opportunities.
“Well, then,” he says, straightening the lapels of his white lab coat. “Without further ado, I give you the brilliant Laina Cassidy.”
I take a deep breath as the door opens and she walks in.”
About The Author
Five-time Pushcart Prize nominee Suzanne Kamata is the author of the novels Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia, 2013) and Losing Kei (Leapfrog Press, 2008), and editor of three anthologies – The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan, Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs, and Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2009). Her short fiction and essays have appeared widely. She is the Fiction Co-editor of literarymama.com.
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