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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1 - Steve Brezenoff (Young Adult)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

The Absolute Value of -1 revolves around the life of three misfit teens. Lily Feinstein, her friends Noah and Simon. All three share a common pastime--smoking cigarettes and smoking weed. Lily is head over heels for Simon, yet he rarely even looks at her face when talking to her. Noah is nuts for Lily, but she's so infatuated with Simon that she never truly notices Noah. Much of the story becomes a triangle with the three teens trying to find their place in each others' lives while coming to terms with their own personal lives too.

The novel opens with a character, Suzanne, who is only introduced in the opening and ending of the story. It does become clear once you've started reading Lily's story.

Should every kid read The Absolute Value of -1? I'd wholeheartedly say yes, after all to me this is a modern day look at the angst some teenagers feel. It's powerfully written and completely mesmerizing. The author captures each characters' individuality perfectly. However, a recent book banning of two Jodi Picoult novels due to "graphic content" makes me wonder how the majority of parents would feel about the drug and alcohol use within Steve Brezenoff's book. I find it absurd that parents think blocking scenes of rape and bullying/violence (the main complaints with Picoult's books) make the world a better place.

The fact of the matter is that there is rape, there is violence, there is substance abuse. All the book banning in the world won't make it go away. Chances are your teen is already well exposed to the brutalities out there. Why not take the time to read the book with your teen so that you're ready to talk about it? I fully believe that The Absolute Value of -1 is destined to become a long-remembered entry into the minds and lives of today's teens. It's an amazing read and one I am so glad I did not miss.

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