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The Schwa Was Here (Antsy Bonano #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,418 Ratings  ·  814 Reviews
From the award-winning author of Full Tilt and The Shadow Club novels comes this tongue-in-cheek tale of a boy so unremarkable, he just might disappear completely.
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Turtleback Books (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 26, 2007 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novelist-reviews
There's a story I tell in trainings about a high school where teachers were given a list of students and asked to put a gold star next to students they knew. At the end of the day, the result was a classic bell curve: a small group of over-achievers known by all, a larger group of average kids known by some, and a small group known by just about no teacher: that's Calvin Schwa. The Schwa is a human magic trick: he seems to vanish into thin air, that is until Antsy (Anthony, the book's M.C.) and ...more
May 11, 2012 Jami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now Shusterman's Unwind was edgy and mind-boggling (and terrifying in its premise), but I can't say the writing itself was my favorite. In this book, however, I fell in love with the narrative voice. Shusterman showed great skill in creating a character whose first-person narration painted such a clear image of a smart-alecky, young teenage Italian kid, and I totally bought it.

Not every author has the ability to give his character an accent, slang, and some bad grammar in a believable way. It ju
Alex Murphy
May 29, 2008 Alex Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Alex by: my middle school librarian
The Schwa was Here was my first book by Neal Shusterman that I read. The librarian at my school recommended it to me, and although I don't usually read recommended books because my list is so long anyways, I was so entertained by the title of chapter one ("Manny Bullpucky Gets His Sorry Butt Hurled Off the Marine Park Bridge") that I stopped what I was doing to investigate further.

The title to chapter one is as dull as this book gets. The narration by Antsy has a lot of character and the whole c
Jun 13, 2010 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Schwa is definitely the most used and most forgottən vowel in the English language. Not too many sentənces can be created without using ə schwa.

The schwa is a boy named Calvin Schwa whose last name was shortənəd from Schwartz when his grandfather came over frəm Eastern Europe. The Schwa is nearly invisible, he is one əf those people that you jəst don't notice ever.He could be standing right next to you and you wouldn't even notice him. He strəggles with "the Schwa effect" and the disappeara
Nov 30, 2008 Meghan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My sis and I read this and its
Never again will I know a book so cool... unless I read it again hehehehehehe. FabulOUS book FO SHO, recommended to anyone with the ability to read. Love Jessie and Meghan the cooliest and most thorough book reviewers ever!!!
May 01, 2008 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Schwa was here is a fiction book set in Brooklyn, New York, about a boy named Antsy Bonano, who makes friends with a boy named Calvin Schwa. "The Schwa" as they call him, has an ability to be semi-invisible, or he can passed unnoticed in crowds, he's is sometimes unable to be seen at all, and he seems to slip people's mind when they try to think of him. Throughout the book both Calvin and Antsy struggle with their invisibility: Antsy feels invisible because he is a middle child and the peace ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
pretty awesome, and i expect no less from neal shusterman!! i must say, shusterman is a really talented author; i love how his tone varies completely from book to book. who would think that the same person would write something as utterly disturbing and depressing as Unwind, and yet be capable of writing a book as funny as The Schwa Was Here? Strange... but that's what i luv about neal shusterman!! now to go to the library and check out like every single book he's ever written... i'm becoming a ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Donalyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Donalyn by: I just found it.
I do not usually read the same books to my class year after year, but this one has been an annual favorite with my sixth graders for the past four years, and yes, I will be reading it to them again.

A rare book that appeals to both boys and girls.
Duffy Pratt
Jan 27, 2014 Duffy Pratt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I've read the Skinjacker series, and the beginning of the Skinjacker series. In those, Shusterman is very strong on content and plotting, and he draws very clever consequences from his initial strong premises. They are, first and foremost, stories that involve big ideas, and they take place on a very big stage. By contrast, the narrative voice in those books is fine, but not particularly special. So I would have guessed that that was what Shusterman does. And his domain name of "" bo ...more
Oct 21, 2014 Katrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle Schoolers (Freshmen?)
Shelves: tween, book-group
Very interesting basis for a story. Eighth-grader "Antsy" Bonano recounts how his accidental relationship with three quirky characters winds up being mutually beneficial. The catalyst in this social collision is Calvin Schwa, a classmate who has an almost supernatural knack for going completely unnoticed. When Antsy decides to become an "agent" for the "nearly invisible" Schwa by entertaining wagers on what he can get away with by being able to fly almost entirely beneath the social radar, the b ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
The Schwa Was Here is the type of book I sometime miss. It's the type that gets lost in the shuffle of paranormal, dystopians, urban fantasy, etc etc. It's not quite a contemporary. It's a book that's hard to describe--contemporary with a little bit it whimsy, wonder or magic?

The Schwa, aka Calvin Schwa, is functionally invisible or observationally challenged. They say if you stare at him long enough you'll see the wall behind him. He's not the type of kid who's face you forget. He's the
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for

Anthony "Antsy" Bonano can't really figure out what's wrong with The Schwa. His classmate, Calvin Schwa, has always just been...around.

A nondescript face on a nondescript kid, The Schwa always seems to just blend into the background, and could be standing right in front of you for half an hour before you even notice he's there - and that's only if he speaks up and says something. Antsy finds it difficult to even think about The Schwa without his m
Apr 30, 2010 babyhippoface rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entirely original concept, as far as I can tell. Anthony "Antsy" Bonano narrates the story of how he met and became friends with Calvin Schwa (called "The Schwa" by everyone). The Schwa is "observationally challenged": no one notices him. Ever. Even if he dresses in costume and wears a bright orange sombrero in the boys' bathroom at school, no one notices. And while that may have some advantages, the disadvantages decidedly outweight them. Calvin needs to be noticed. (And don't we all?) Before l ...more
Eric Boot
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I read another book of Neal Shusterman before, Unwind. But this one was so different (in a positive way!) There was a lot of good humour and I laughed a lot :) Fans of John Green will be growing crazy reading this book!
Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook
Berend brought this book home. He did a book report for school and Malcolm began reading it too. I picked it up and kept on reading. It is pretty funny. It is about a boy that is hard to see because he blends so well. He is almost invisible. In a way, it is also a mystery because his mom disappeared sometime when he was five and the boy, "Schwa" thinks the universe swallowed her because she was not outstanding, and he fears he will eventually suffer the same destiny. To this, add his new found f ...more
Mason Frey
Apr 18, 2010 Mason Frey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Schwa Was Here
By: Neal Shusterman
This book takes place in Brooklyn, New York, present time. The main characters are Old Man Crawley, a lonely mysterious man who owns a restaurant in a four story building and lives above it, Lexie, Crawley's blind granddaughter, Calvin Schwa a.k.a The Schwa, an invisible-ish boy, and Antsy, a caring boy trying to help the Schwa.
In this book Antsy meets the Schwa at the river one day and they become friends. The strange thing is that Antsy had never noticed
Sep 13, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
New favorite middle grade pending. Loved it!

So, I recently discovered how to request a book hold online at my community library. It's wonderful. I decided to "purge" my to-read listing of the books that I currently own and have not read yet. Then I decided to request the remaining to-read books (a few at a time) from the library to whittle my to-read listing down. This was how I finally received a copy of "The Schwa Was Here."

I saw the author, Neal Shusterman speak at the Bethesda
Aug 22, 2010 Jsinclair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yalit-books
LOVE THIS BOOK! This book is great on many levels. The author creatively writes a story based on a character who seems to always get ignored or just pop up out of nowhere (similarly, to the schwa sound in the English language). Shusterman uses description so artistically that I could hear Antsy's mom's Brooklyn accent everytime she talked as well as see exactly where the boys were playing in Queens. So many times I found myself laughing out loud as well as staying up just a little bit longer to ...more
Dec 01, 2010 Lexi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Who or what is the Schwa? Where did “it” come from? Why is it the way it is? Turns out the Schwa A.K.A Calvin is just a normal kid for the most part; that is, if you noticed him enough to get to know him. That’s exactly how Antsy found out about him. Antsy was the first out of his friends, Howie and Ira, to notice the Schwa was tagging along with them one day out of nowhere. Antsy started to wonder… has he always been sneaking around and following us? How come no one has noticed him? Why is he
Feb 05, 2009 Whitney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a unique narrative voice, or just anyone in general.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eileen Brian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ceming Ruan
Oct 11, 2011 Ceming Ruan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Reader:

The Schwa is Here is a fiction book, by Neal Shusterman. It is about a boy named Calvin Schwa. What they call him is "The Schwa" as they handout with his friends, they discover Schwa has an ability to be semi-invisible, or he can passed without being noticed in crowds, he's is sometimes unable to be seen at all, and he seems to slip people's mind when they try to think of him. While he is in school, a teacher asked a question and he call out so loud but nobody can noticed him that h
Brittany Estrada
Nov 19, 2010 Brittany Estrada rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Schwa Was Here

Antsy is a regular teenage boy. He likes to blow thinks up and all that stuff. While he is busy blowing up a mannequin, he feels like someone is watching him. There is no one there. He begins to get a little creeped out but pushes it a side. When they try to find the head to the mannequin, it is floating in mid-air. As the look more closely they see a person. The Schwa. Calvin Schwa is the “invisible man.” To prove his invisibility Antsy and his brothers dress him up in a sombr
Sean Mitcham
Nov 11, 2010 Sean Mitcham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the book The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman Antsy is a regular teenage boy who enjoys blowing things up and hanging out with his friends. One day he feels that he is being watched, and turns around to find a kid named Calvin Schwa standing behind him. He becomes friends with the Schwa and learns that the Schwa is “functionally invisible.” People just don’t notice him even if he is right there in the room next to them.
Calvin (The Schwa) and Antsy have many adventures together testing the sc
Rachael Newell
The Schwa Was Here: Book Review
Rachael Newell

Sometimes the things that make an impact on your life the most you don’t notice at first. In this book, Anthony Banano definitely learns that. While trying to blow up his dad’s model with his friends, he finally met the invisible, Calvin Shwa. Testing the Schwa’s invisibility winds them in a whole lot of trouble, and in plenty of community dept. Anthony gains friends looses friends, but as a person learns how important his family and friends are too
Jul 23, 2008 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: smart middle schoolers
Recommended to Simon by: local librarian
A unique story.
One of those stories where it seems like it can totally be a true tale, yet it's impossible. Like a superhero comic. It could happen, but unfortunately, flying, crime-fighting heroes don't really exist.
In this book, the author Neal Shusterman, has a funny way of telling us how the characters' moods are. He uses many examples referring to other stories, musicals, fact he uses them so often, it either makes me confused, or laugh. For example, since I'm into musicals a
Feb 26, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martha Woodside
The Schwa Was Here, by Neal Shusterman, is the story that takes place in New York City of an invisible boy named Calvin "the Schwa" Schwa. He is described as having eyes that change color to match the color of the sky, clothes that blend into wherever he's standing, and if one looks at him long enough, he or she can see what's written on the wall behind him. Although Calvin is not entirely "invisle," he goes unnoticed or unseen to people around him, unless he points out that he is standing right ...more
Aug 20, 2009 Brandi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
Have you ever met someone who you forget about completely the next day? You couldn't pick him out of a line-up or anything. It's like he was just wiped out of your mind.

Enter Calvin "The Schwa" Schwa. The Schwa is what his three friends call "observationally challenged". Finally the four boys, led by Antsy Bonano, test the Schwa Effect by dressing him up in funny clothes and see if anyone notices him. Few do, not always including Antsy. Antsy and the Schwa decided to use this more as a gift than
Pilar Ibarra
"The Schwa Was Here" was good, I admit. It made me laugh at times while my mom and sister looked on as if I had a conjoined head or something, since it's been months since I read a book that made me laugh. The plot was just kind of... confusing. It made me wonder, is there a purpose to this plot? Is it going anywhere? What did the author intend to do with the characters? Is this even realistic fiction? I didn't very much like the ending. SPOILER-----

****SPOILER*****What had the protagonist even
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Internal Conflict: Crawley 1 1 Dec 10, 2015 08:57AM  
External Conflict 1 1 Dec 09, 2015 08:25AM  
The Schwa Was Here: Internal Conflict 1 1 Dec 07, 2015 08:51AM  
Dialogue in The Schwa Was Here 1 1 Nov 30, 2015 08:53AM  
The Schwa Was Here: Dialogue 1 2 Nov 24, 2015 08:47AM  
What's The Name o...: boy forced to befriend blind girl because of her grandfather [s] 10 47 Jan 13, 2015 10:45PM  
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Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movi ...more
More about Neal Shusterman...

Other Books in the Series

Antsy Bonano (3 books)
  • Antsy Does Time (Antsy Bonano, #2)
  • Ship Out of Luck (Antsy Bonano, #3)

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“Life is like a bad haircut. At first it looks awful, then you kind of get used to it, and before you know it, it it grows out and you gotta get another haircut that maybe won't be so bad, unless of course you keep going to SuperClips, where the hairstylists are so terrible they oughta be using safety scissors, and when they're done you look like your head got caught in a ceiling fan. So life goes on, good haircut, bad haircut, until finally you go bald, and it don't matter no more.
I told this wisdom to my mother, and she said I oughta put it in a book, then burn it. Some people just can't appreciate the profound.”
“What, are you totally psycho?" I shouted.
"Maybe I am!" he screamed back at me. "Maybe that's just what I am. Maybe I'm that quiet guy who suddenly goes nuts and then you find half the neighborhood in his freezer."
I gotta admit, that one stumped me for a second - but only for a second. "Which half?" I asked.
"Which half of the neighborhood? Could you make it the people on the other side of Avenue T, because I never really liked them anyway.”
More quotes…