PW #239: Middle Grade Fantasy #ownvoices: ETTA, INVISIBLE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Names: Jessica Vitalis/Julie Artz

Mentee Name: Reese Eschmann


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Fantasy #ownvoices

Word Count: 50,000 words


EL DEAFO meets WEST SIDE STORY when twelve-year-old Etta, a quiet girl with fluctuating hearing loss, crosses neighborhood lines to help a boy stop a magic train from spreading fear around Chicago. Now she must become as brave as the hero in the comic she writes––or else watch fear twist through her city, her new friendship, and her heart.


From my perch on the roof, all the buildings in Chicago fit together like Tetris pieces. No one sees me up here, not the early-morning walkers or the construction workers down the street.

Their world is so loud they forget to look up.

My world whispers with sounds that are hushed and hiding, soft as the sun tip-toeing behind the clouds.

“Good morning, sky,” I sign.

The sky answers.

A black rocket flies above my neighborhood and explodes into tiny pieces that scuttle across the sky like so many beetles.

The pieces burst, leaving behind a cloud of black licorice-scented smoke that stings my nose and blocks my whole view of the city. My heart beats fast. Not a thump-thump like a normal heart––a one-two punch straight to a comic-book villain’s jaw. THWACK-THWACK.

I’ve never seen a firework this big, not even that time Mom took me to Navy Pier on the Fourth of July. They don’t sell that sort of thing in Indiana, where people in my neighborhood go to buy cheap sparklers and bottle rockets.

Unless there’s a secret magic warehouse in Indiana. Come to think of it, no one’s ever told me there isn’t a secret magic warehouse in Indiana. It’s the sort of thing that happens in books. I know some people might tell me, c’mon Etta, you’re twelve, surely you don’t believe everything that happens in books. But I do. I’m determined to.

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