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THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1 by Steve Brezenoff


by Steve Brezenoff

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7613-5417-8
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Abandonment, cruelty, disease: three issues driving wedges into the lifelong friendship of a trio of teens. Lily’s never forgiven her mother for going on vacation right before her elementary-school graduation and later marrying a man from that same cruise. Verbally abused by his father for years, Noah’s pining after Lily but lacks the confidence to ask her out, especially since she’s in love with Simon. Unfortunately for Lily, Simon’s both dealing with his father’s terminal illness and eyeing a track teammate. Brezenoff does an excellent job wrapping the characters in layers of drama and emotional turmoil, but he forgets to leave room for the readers as well. It’s difficult to forge connections with such self-involved personalities, and the bleak narrative feels more apathetic than desperate. Simon’s relationship with his sister Suzanne offers a taste of true connection, but those brief pages can’t carry the tale. Attempting to illustrate the distance among friends, the author shoves characters, empathy and readers aside. (Fiction. YA)