Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff + Contest!

Published September 1, 2010.

Lily: "For three years, I'd been trying to hold on to Simon and pull him up against me. He was a bar of soap in the shower, though: slippery as hell, and one false move - squeeze a little too tight - and he's gone. And picking up a wet bar of soap in the shower is pretty difficult."

Noah: "Lily has these big brown eyes. It sounds corny, but they totally get me. They make my stomach and heart flip five times a piece. So I looked away quickly, because I have a tendency to kind of stare at her if I don't catch myself. It's been like that forever."

Simon: "I never thought much would change with Lily being my girlfriend. I mean, she and Noah were the only people I hung out with much anyway, so now I'd be kissing her and fondling her and she'd be kissing me and fondling me. Not much of a difference, really." (book flap blurb)

Don't let those blurbs fool you. The only one that's the most relevant is Lily's. The others all look like they're wrapped up in some weird love triangle of angst but it's so much more than that. Except for Lily. That's really all it is about since she had such tunnel vision for Simon.

Again, Carolrhoda Lab has not let me down with one of their books. Brezenoff's writing digs so deep, gets down underneath the emo and the angst and the teenagery to something so much more powerful. Lily and Noah are chasing pipe dreams, from a pipe. Just not each others. And Simon, he's the absolute value. He's not a positive or a negative. He's the normal, the end result of walking through the absolute and coming out the other side alive.

The story is told in three very distinct points of view: Lily's, Noah's and Simon's and they all cover relatively the same timeline but you get to see the world from different eyes and it makes all the difference in the story.

Lily's story is rose-colored but running, like red ink splattered with water. She has her eyes set on Simon and she's so blinded by that want she doesn't see the forest for the trees. There is no forest, no trees. Just Simon. Noah's world is a baked out Scooby van with douchier friends. Like Lily, he's so blinded by the path he's made out for himself that he can't see the change. Or doesn't want to. So he envelopes himself in a protective seal in order to save himself. He likes what he has. It saves him from what he walks away from every day and it's worked. Why change something that works so well? It could ruin everything.

And Simon. Simon's the be-all end-all of the storyline, in so many ways. His piece of the puzzle is the most powerful, the most poignant. When he cries, you can feel his tears hitting your hand. You can feel the pain he feels when he starts learning hard truths. And through his eyes we see just how absolutely far away from Lily and Noah he really is. From their eyes, he's the quiet dude that keeps to himself but smokes a lot of bud. No one digs any deeper and if they tried, he really wouldn't let them in. But he's not. He's coping. He's normal. Sort of.

There really wasn't anything about this book not to love. I could have been reading the stories of three real kids for how authentic all three voices sounded. The only issue I had with any part of the story was Suzanne. I'm not sure of her relevance nor if she was even necessary for the story. As Simon's sister she was definitely a crutch for him and at times I found their relationship uncomfortable for how close they were. I saw the path it was headed on really early on but I don't know why the story went there, especially since it happened so late in the plot (like the last few pages) and the aftermath wasn't delved into at all except they kept their distance from each other at the grieving. I honestly don't know if it was another wrench in the spokes of life or if there's a bigger picture I'm missing. I just didn't find that particular part necessary. I think it was too underdeveloped for what it became.

Other than that, this could be a life study of teenagers in the wild. This is what it's like to be a fly on the inside of their craniums. You see how they act and you're privy to what they think and it's so much deeper than the cigarettes and beer and weed and cutting class and slang and whatever. There's pain and torment and sorrow and loss and longing and love going on underneath it all and Brezenoff captured it all fantastically. Reading from one cover to the other was as effortless as walking from one side of the room to the other. At the end I wanted more, especially of Simon. There was so much left hanging there that I didn't want it to end. But it did. And it was oh so good while it lasted.

Contest time!!!

Want my copy? Then fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends January 20th at midnight, EST.


Corrine said...

I really enjoyed reading your review of this one. I don't think I did this book justice in my review, but I agree, it was a good read! :)

Beverly said...

Thanks for hosting! Happy reading.

Anonymous said...

AMAZING review! Very beautifully written and is making me want to read this book even more!!

Mrs. DeRaps said...

Sounds great. Teenagers in the wild? Count me in. Thanks for the review and the giveaway.

Jessy said...

I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one so much. This is the first I've really heard of this, and I really want to read it now.

Jessica ( frellathon ) said...

Your review is amazing I enjoyed it more than some books I read.

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