Ethel is a 12-year-old girl living along the northeast coast of England with her grandmother. Her own mother died when she was three and her dad split to parts unknown. She has a great-grandmother nearby in a senior living community. Ethel is not unhappy with her life but she has terrible acne and so has procured over the internet a dodgy Chinese herbal cure which she gulps in desperation. She simultaneously makes use of an old tanning bed that a former acne sufferer gifts to her. When she wakes up 90 minutes later (the timer didn’t work) she finds she is invisible. The invisibility eventually wears off after a few hours, but she makes use of the procedure a few more times to achieve some, um, specific ends. Eventually it leads to a tragic accident, but this is resolved satisfactorily.
There is a lot going on in this book: bullying, rock-star relatives, evil twins with a dognapping business, the return of a wayward father, budding friendship/romance, incapable parents requiring children to take charge, good adults who help kids along, grown-ups who don’t listen to what kids are really saying, Mean Girls, a little science, a reminder not to infantilize elderly people, blackmail, intrigue, and action. It’s a lot to include in one story, but on the other hand young readers will enjoy entering into a world with so many points of interest. Good lessons are shared. Everybody but the dognappers grows and learns from their missteps.
The only thing some people might find objectionable is the use of phrases like “Oh God,” “Oh my God,” “What the hell,” etc.