Invisible Lissa


Taking a little snark break to remember an oldie but goodie. Man, I must have read this book hundreds of times. It reminded me a lot of Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade. The main character, Lissa, was only in fifth grade but had a pretty strong voice and seemed so grown up to me. I can totally remember the plot like I just read it yesterday.

There’s this bitchy popular girl named Debra who always needs to be the center of attention (a Jessica Wakefield in-training, if you will). She creates a cheerleading team for their school’s soccer team. Lissa is not asked to join, and takes her little brother to the soccer game. He ends up humiliating the cheerleaders, and Debrea decides she has it out for Lissa.

So Debra creates a super-exclusive club called FUNCHY and invites everyone but Lissa. Lissa finally infiltrates and finds out the secret- that the club really means fun lunches, where people share lunch- and calls bullshit on Debra and makes others see what a little snot she is. I remember the ending being where al Debra’s club starts leaving and she has a little hissy fit.

The plot was more about remaining true to yourself and your friends, not doing things just because others are doing it, and the importance of family. Fuzzy hugs and rainbows!

34 thoughts on “Invisible Lissa

  1. BartTempleton says:

    No, No. It’s an impossibility you read this more than I did. (YA and Intermediate grade novelists must make a lot on royalties…their publishers clearly do. We’ve all read the same stuff).

    Wasn’t there an incident in this one wherein someone ruins Lissa’s clay-maytion Indian village/politically incorrect school project?

  2. amanda says:

    I remember this one! The part that I remember the most is when Lissa wants to miss school, so she went through her drawers and dug out an old lollipop that she used to suck on when she had a cold; she was hoping to recreate the cold or something. :-p

  3. Kristin says:

    I loved this book! I remember thinking that FUNCHY was so lame. Also, is this the book where she has a crush on the soccer player and talks about his “knobby knees?” Or am I thinking of something else?

  4. Merrie says:

    Wasn’t the ‘knobby knees” kid her friend Joel (or another name)? I think Debra liked him and he was not interested. The thing this book taught me wat so never loan a four-color pen to the snobby popular girl. She won’t give it back.

  5. Robyn says:

    This is the one where somebody destroys her diorama that she was so proud of and worked super hard on. I very clearly remember that part.

    I also remember when she finally joins FUNCHY (which I actually thought was really cool and wanted to start a FUNCHY club myself, but that’s probably because I was a little lame back then too) she has to start making facny lunches so made celery with cream cheese filling and raisin toppings.

    Love this book! Must find and reread!

  6. ames says:

    Oh man, this brings back memories. I still think about this book all the time!

    My biggest memory was that she held onto that lollipop with the germs on it so she could get sick when she needed to miss school. Of course it didn’t work. Breakin’ my heart, Lissa!

    My other memory is that the Jessica-Wakefield-in-Training in my school was always reading this book, and it made me SO ANGRY because I was totally the nerdy kid whose life she made hell, and I thought it offensive she act sympathetic to a character in a book like me. Also she kept pronouncing the name “Lisa” and it drove me nertz.

    Wow, who knew I was still so angry about something that happened in fifth grade?!

  7. LucyHoneychurch says:

    The main reason I remember this book is that everyone said, “OMGz, the girl on the cover TOTALLY LOOKS LIKE Melissa Young,” who was the most popular girl in our grade, and I got super mad at this and was like, “YOU’RE MISSING THE WHOLE POINT.” And then Melissa Young said I was just jealous because my mother had given me a Dorothy Hamill haircut.

    And let’s face it. I WAS jealous.

  8. athenasmom says:

    I remember this book!

    Lissa wanted to be an archaeologist, right? And she actually based her project on artifacts from a native tribe she found at a creak by her house.

    Also, didn’t Debra end up inviting the drippy girl no one liked before she acquiesced to invite Lissa?

    Of course now, I read these plot summaries, and think “Why aren’t the teachers stopping this?” But then I remember middle school, and how the teachers were pretty much clueless to this shit.

  9. Isabel says:

    DUDE. I remember reading this book! The only thing I remember really clearly is that her little brother had a lisp, and used to call her “Witha” but then with speech therapy was able to call her “Wissa” and then at some point (I think maybe after she has a fight with her mom, who pulls this out to guilt trip her about the importance of family) her mom tells her the brother has something he wants to show her and he just goes up and says “Lissa. Lissa.”

    Aww. That was such a cute scene.

  10. Visace says:

    John Jason Jingleheimer Smith!!

    Oh I love this book. Thank you for including this and Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade. Now if I see Veronica Ganz, I will squeal with happiness.

  11. MaggieCat says:

    “Of course now, I read these plot summaries, and think “Why aren’t the teachers stopping this?” But then I remember middle school, and how the teachers were pretty much clueless to this shit.”

    This sort of thing alllllways makes me irrationally angry, and could not believe that nearly everyone who chooses to go into teaching could be so uniformly blind. Then there was an episode of L&O:SVU where Dr. Huang said something to the effect of “Victims of bullying are often social outcasts. School officials typically identify with ‘the normal kids,’ and the victims are seen as being overly sensitive,” and I remember hearing that and thinking ‘…..oh, so you went to my middle school then? Because that would explain SO MUCH.’

  12. BartTempleton says:

    Anyone else read the same author’s book _Ask Me Something Easy_? It was one of the first examples of “issues” YA lit I had seen, and I remember the characters having actual problems without happy endings.

    I still think of it as Natalie Honeycutt’s “newer” book…even though it came out like in 1990. But then, I still think of anything that came out in the early ’90s as “new”–probably because, as a young teen, that was the first time in my life I was old enough to actually be aware of books and movies “coming out.”

  13. ihatewheat says:

    Wow, I’m so happy you all brought up those other details- I thought I remembered everything about the book. I remember the lollipop thing, and her adorable little brother and how proud he was when he could say Lissa’s name.

    I think the dumpy girl’s name was Bernice?

    Lissa was pretty frikkin cool, and I remember wanting to have a friend just like her.

  14. Nathalie says:

    Another book with the lesson of it’s OK to be different was “Daphne’s Book.” Anyone read that. I thought about these two novels every time I got in a fight with my friends about some trivial matter and ended up feeling excluded.

  15. Tracy says:

    Another one I’ve read. Although I lived in a town with a great Kids/YA library section and I was an avid reader so it’s hard to get one I DIDN’T read. =) It sucks, because I’ve been reading alot of YA stuff (SVH BSC and others) but I’m too embarrased to read them at work on my break so I’ve got 2 books going at once at any given time now which I hate doing. (Though I am enjoying my less embarrasing current pick of reading the Dresden Files books)

  16. Eli says:

    I saw the recap and was like aw, she found a YA book I didn’t read. Then when I started reading it all came back to me…Funchy, the cream cheese/celery, and the four color pen. I had (obviously) forgotten this book existed. Thanks for the refresh.

  17. BartTempleton says:

    The cream cheese and celery, Eli! And four color pens–I owned eight or nine my favorites were from Sanrio Surprises. Bigod, it’s like Celine always sang it.

    It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now.

  18. Eli says:

    The highlight of my sixth grade life was upgrading from a four color pen to a…wait for it…TEN color pen. I got it during our Secret Santa class gift exchange. Siiigh. I miss the days when a pen with many colors would make me happy.

  19. BartTempleton says:

    Yes, my two most prized pens were 10-colors from Sanrio.

    Yet, I asked then and I still ask now: what the devil were our parents/guardians thinking of letting us buy them? They never wrote properly! Seriously. Think back to when you used them–the ink was all low-tech (not the smooth gels of today) and dry and palid. I could barely write a decent note to my best friend while in class without the nub getting dry or my favorite color not working.

    Yet, knowing this, I had to have more…and more…

  20. Melissa says:

    I LOVED this book. I bought it at the third-grade book fair because my name is Melissa, and I totally tried to get people to call me “Lissa” after I read it. It didn’t take.

    I read it over and over, at least once a year until I went to college, and I can’t believe I forgot about it until I saw this post. I loved the Indian plotline. I so wanted a creek behind my house to go search for artifacts.

    Weren’t there two boys? Joel was the one people were mean to but Lissa was friendly with him (I think they were neighbors, and they found the Native American stuff together), and then there was also the cool guy in their class, who was the one who saw through Debra, and that made Lissa a lot more confident to know that not everyone was enamored of her.

  21. Melissa says:

    Hey Melissa, I had the same thing happen with the whole trying to be called “Lissa”! I owned this book and read it so many times. I wonder what happened to it…hmm…maybe I sold it or donated it. Seriously, if I still had every book I had owned from childhood to now, I would need another apartment just for them. *sigh* I just donated two bags of books I didn’t really read anymore or didn’t like the direction the series went in to a fund raiser for the local cat shelter and I still don’t have enough shelf space.

  22. HK says:

    I loved this book, too. It was maybe my third favorite book of tween pathos after Veronica Ganz (#2) and Daphne’s Book (#1 foreva!). Oh, do Daphne’s Book!

  23. Karen says:

    I loved this book as well. I used to stare at the cover (although mine was *slightly* different than the one pictured) to read the note, written in FOUR COLOR PEN taped to the mirror.

    It’s a great, well thought out, well written book. Yay, memories!

  24. Fraulein N says:

    I thought I’d never read this one … but then it all came back to me! Sometimes FUNCHY will pop into my head for no reason. Lord, that really was lame.

  25. Schatzi says:

    Oh god, I was devastated when I found out this was missing from my collection along with Goodbye, Pink Pig). It was so good; the part where they broke her clay Indian woman always made me so upset. I never thought about it, but it really does resemble NFiFG, and even Blubber.

  26. Elisabeth Chaney says:

    I got this book as a gift because I was called Lissa as a kid. But I totally remember this peom(?) from it:

    Well Barbie and Ken, they never did think that Hostess Twinkies could clog up the sink. So they called the man from Rotor Rooter who came to the house on a motor scooter. He cleaned up the mess and saved the day. They bid him adieu, and he drove away.

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