Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
Lerner, 2010
289 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Netgalley

Summary: Told from multiple perspectives, looking at the entwined lives of four young people as they try to live their lives.

Thoughts: It opens with someone named Suzanne in a way that confused me.  Then it jumps to the first part with Lily sharing about her awful family and telling her story about her love for Simon; I really identified with her feelings about the boy even though her copious drug use was off-putting.  Unfortunately her feelings are not reciprocated; we get more insight in to why during Simon's section.

Then it goes to misguided drug dealer Noah who likes Lily/Lily's chest but knows no way of wooing her; not that it would matter because he can see that she's crazy for Simon, his best friend.  His family life is also awful with a father who likes to beat on his mother and seems to hate him.

Then we go to the longest section of the book which is told from Simon's point of view.  He writes stream of conscious stories (blech) and his father has cancer, which is the catalyst for Simon making a complete 180 from a loser stoner to runner with a runner girlfriend.  I already didn't like Simon for breaking Lily's heart but I can understand it a bit more.

I don't think this is really my kind of book as it's almost too realistic (maybe I'm sheltered-do teenagers really smoke so many cigarettes and pot? My friends and I certainly didn't) with teens dealing with many difficult issues and there's no happy ending.  I much prefer funny books with a happily ever after-that is not found here.

Overall: Not my taste. But still well-written and interesting.


  1. I like a good realistic book every now and then, but with a tad more happiness involved, so this might not be a read for me. I can tell you, though, that teenagers are not such chain-smokers and drug-abusers as books and movies depict them to be. I guess it depends on a person, but one whole generation is definitely not like that.

  2. I agree sounds too depressing for me and I have a teen niece though I know she smokes , she doesn't chain smoke or do drugs.


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