A teen boy learns that he doesn’t have to grieve alone.
After Black, biracial high school sophomore Kermit’s older sister, Sheila, is killed by a drunk driver, he receives a mysterious invitation in his school locker to join an unknown group; the back of the card reads only “-1.” The Minus-One Club is composed of classmates who have suffered a devastating loss: There’s football player Patrick, whose father died while sailing; artsy Celia, whose twin sister succumbed to leukemia; geeky Simon, whose beloved late grandfather was his only family; dance team member Janna, whose mother died in a car accident while Janna was learning to drive; and handsome, openly gay Matt, who lost his mother to pancreatic cancer. The rules of the club are simple—it is top secret, and they don’t talk about death. Kermit needs the support; as a closeted gay teen with homophobic, religious parents, he’s unsure where to place his grief. Memories and dreams of Sheila guide Kermit as he quickly becomes closer with Matt, but while the club provides some level of security, ignoring their losses can lead to emotional spiraling and dangerous consequences. Magoon tackles a lot with Kermit’s story, but the realistic jumble of romance, grief, religion, toxic masculinity, sexuality, and depression may leave readers feeling like there are too many threads and not enough character development to truly feel invested.
An ambitious coming-of-age story.(Fiction. 13-18)