top of page
  • The Invisible Backpack
  • The Invisible Backpack
SKU: 9781645385202

The Invisible Backpack


The Invisible Backpack

Written by Crystal McClain


ISBN PB: 9781645385202

Foster Parents - Adoption - Blended Families

188 pages




James Archer is a biracial fifteen-year-old who has just been relocated to a new foster home after leaving his former placement. He is being fostered by the family of Lulu, his biological half-sister, older by one year, who was adopted as an infant. Her adoptive parents never knew of James’s existence until recently, when he was removed from his previous placement, a social worker found them, and she reached out to them about fostering him.


Lulu attempts to establish a relationship with this brother she’s just met as James unpacks his backpack, which holds everything he owns in the world. James is resentful of Lulu, who has grown up with loving parents in a comfortable home. But as he unpacks, he begins to tell Lulu about his past. The story of his life is told in flashbacks inspired by the various objects in his backpack.


James’s memories start in early childhood and proceed to the present. Ultimately, the story reveals the events that led to James’s removal from his most recent placement. The last chapter has James and Lulu sitting in his room, fully unpacked, acknowledging all the differences in their lives up to this point. They are united as siblings, hopeful about their future as a family.



Crystal McClain is the founder and executive officer of Revive Youth & Family Services, a social service agency created to help meet the needs of youth who are considered to be at-risk for incarceration, homelessness, and victimization. Revive Youth & Family Services offers licensed group home placement as well as interdisciplinary programming for youth throughout the state of Wisconsin.


In 2018, McClain was named one of Milwaukee Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and she holds a master’s in social work from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She also received a certification from The National Child and Traumatic Stress Network Child Welfare Trauma Training, where she was first introduced to the concept of the invisible backpack. McClain is dedicated to serving children in foster care and finding ways to help them heal to increase their quality of life, and she hopes that sharing the concept of the invisible backpack can serve as an eye-opener in their journey towards healing. 


This is McClain’s debut book. Learn more about Revive at

    bottom of page