Sara Grochowski's Reviews > The Absolute Value of -1

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
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Sep 28, 10

bookshelves: reviewed, own
Read from August 07 to 09, 2010

Having never heard of THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1, I had no expectations as I cracked the cover. Not one. Which is why I was shocked to discover that this novel, Steve Brezenoff's YA debut, has landed squarely on my Best of 2010 list.

The novel is divided into three main sections - one for each character - but the first and last pages are told by Suzanne. I'll admit to being a bit confused when I saw her name printed largely on the first page... there's no mention of a Suzanne in the description. It doesn't take long to figure out who this mysterious narrator is, but it takes the majority of the novel to make sense of her role and meaning to each of the main characters.

I ended up preferring Lily and Noah over Simon. I appreciated seeing the events unfold from each POV, but Simon set me on edge. Even at the end of the novel, I wasn't completely sure I understood his motivations, which made is actions difficult to reconcile. In the end, I resigned myself to disliking his character, which was difficult for me because I can't help but try to connect with each character, even in a small way.

I found it easy to identify with Lily. She's the typically high school girl, in love with a boy who is oblivious to her. Or worse, is completely aware and chooses to act oblivious. I feel confident saying that every girl feels like a Lily at some point, whether it occurs in high school or later.

Noah was my favorite character, though it's hard to say exactly why. Part of me wonders if it's due to the fact that he had the smallest section. It's almost like when you meet someone for the first time and you think they're pretty cool, but then, the more you get to know them, the more you're aware of their flaws. And then they just don't seem so cool anymore. Simon and Lily's flaws were painfully clear, while Noah was just a stoner boy with an unrequited crush. He was much easier to like. Maybe I would have ended up liking him less if he was more of a focus, but I still can't help wanting to hear more of his story.

THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1 is unflinchingly honest and beautifully written. I'm very curious to see what Steve Brezenoff offers next, but, in the meantime, I'll be pondering this novel's final pages...
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Reading Progress

08/07/2010 "I'm SO excited about this book! *fingers crossed*"
08/08/2010
50.0% "Really liking it so far!" 2 comments
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