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Double Negative

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"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't go into the slammer before that happened." Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped in a dysfunctional family. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.

258 pages, Paperback

First published July 24, 2014

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About the author

C. Lee McKenzie

22 books421 followers
I always have free gifts for visitors to my Blog, so stop by. Sign up and get your gift today, and you can see all of my work on Amazon. I'd love to connect with you on Instagram, too!

In my other life--the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers--I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.

My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for T.B. Markinson.
Author 57 books809 followers
August 21, 2014
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is such a wonderful read. Hutch McQueen is the type of reader I want to hug at one moment and then talk some sense into the next. He hasn’t had it easy and on top of that, he’s going through all the stuff teens go through. And he feels alone. However right when he reaches his lowest point, he starts to make friends and to find mentors. Through these relationships he finds out he matters and that the choices he makes will affect the rest of his life. The question is: will he make the right ones? Read this charming story to find out.

This is the first book I've read by this author and she won me over completely. I can't wait to read more by her.
Profile Image for Chrys Fey.
Author 20 books335 followers
July 4, 2016
Hutch is always in the wrong place at the wrong time and making the wrong decisions time and time again. He is stuck with an abusive, neglectful mother while his dad is hauling a big rig from here to there. He struggles with school work, steals food because he's hungry, gets arrested, and receives second chances. Through this story we see him grow and decide to swim rather than sink. He learns from those around him and develops a sense of normalcy.

My favorite characters were Nyla and Maggie. All of the characters, especially Hutch, reminded me of students I knew in middle and high school. I've always wondered what happened to them. Now I have hope that things turned out okay.

*I won a copy of this book. This review is 100% honest.
Profile Image for Lynda Dietz.
57 reviews12 followers
June 19, 2017
I read this book in two sittings because frankly, I didn’t want to put it down once I got going. Hutch’s story is written in such a believable way that I really felt as if I were in a teenage boy’s head.

Hutch has a life that’s far from ideal, and even when things go his way, the good part doesn’t last long before he’s in trouble again for something he did—or for being in the wrong place at the wrong time so he’s assumed guilty even when he’s not.

Fortunately, he ends up with a mentor in his life, though an unlikely one: a priest with a similar past to his, and who has a few tricks up his sleeve to reach him where he needs it most. The great part about the writing is that Hutch isn’t instantly “fine” and really isn’t even on board with most of what’s being done to help him. He’s still a typical teenage boy who’s had a life of struggle. He continues to struggle with what he wants to do, based on a lifetime of habit, and what he knows he should do to break those habits and patterns and succeed in life.

The support characters were likable with side stories of their own that don’t bog down the main story. Each one had his or her own progression that made sense and didn’t seem forced. The writing was solid and the story could be that of any teen in any high school across the country. It’s not too tidy and it’s not far-fetched. It’s just real.

As a middle-aged mama, I’m probably not the intended reading audience, but I would recommend Double Negative to anyone. It would definitely reach teens, and perhaps the characters might help someone to realize he’s not alone in a particular struggle. It’s also a good reminder to adults that our job is to mentor and encourage, rather than beat down, so that struggling young people have a positive path to aim for.
Profile Image for Beverly McClure.
Author 17 books453 followers
July 25, 2014
If life were fair, all children would have parents that loved and cared for them. Parents that helped them with their homework, made sure they had good food, and who listened to their troubles. Unfortunately, the world does not work that way. Many children’s mothers or fathers or both are drunkards, abusers, neglecters, and they just don’t care about their young ones.

Author C. Lee McKenzie’s YA novel, DOUBLE NEGATIVE, is the story of sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen, one of the kids that gets by the best he can without the support of his parents. Hutch’s story will have you crying, wanting to shake some sense into him, and wishing you could help the boy all at the same time. At least it did me. He’s not a bad kid; he just does dumb things, like many teens. He has a lot of decisions to make, decisions that will affect his future. Will he listen to his true friends and make the right choices? In Hutch, C. Lee McKenzie has created a character that many young readers will likely relate to. He’s tough and uncaring on the outside, but inside he wants family and friends. When he’s given a chance to change his life, will he take it or will he end up like many of his friends, either dead or in prison?

Every high school, college, and public library should have a copy of DOUBLE NEGATIVE because, sadly, the novel is so true to life. We read about these teens in the newspapers every day. I think that Hutch’s story will stay with you for a long time as you wonder if teens like Hutch and the other characters can be helped, or are they beyond hope.

An ARC of the book was provided by the author for my honest review.
Profile Image for J. Dorner.
Author 5 books1,146 followers
August 28, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. I'm a "Catcher In The Rye" fan, so mentioning Holden Caulfield instantly wins bonus points with me! And I'm from PA, so the mention of Hershey's candy gets my chocolate heart all melty. But that's stuff that appeals to me, personally.

The characters are all written and developed with care. The reader is smack dab inside Hutch's messed-up head. He's a kid with problems. (Drunk, abusive mom, absentee dad, poverty and hunger, reading issues largely due to a need for eyeglasses, etc.) All the teens in this book have problems, some which are only hinted at. How his friendship with Nyla began, that right there makes him a hero. I imagine some of the Nylas of the world (smart teen girls who prefer books to make-up and are outcasted because of it) reading this book to a few of the Hutchs (who would get all defensive and say it isn't like their life, but it probably is).

If you enjoyed the movie Dangerous Minds, and would like a book told from the point of view of one of the students, here you go!

I'd also suggest requiring everyone in politics to give this book a read. Increase literacy! Reduce crime! The ideas for the making a better society might slip in their minds.

There's a lot of wisdom in these pages.

If I'd change one thing about this book, it would be at the end... I'd add "Maggie's suggested reading list."
Profile Image for Medeia Sharif.
Author 21 books428 followers
August 8, 2014
Hutch McQueen is a young man with an abusive mother and absentee father. He’s in and out of the courtroom as he lands in legal trouble. Also, he's not a star student since he has problems with his eyesight and lacks reading skills.

He’s not alone, though. There’s Father Kerry, who wants to take him in and help him. Maggie, a woman stricken with Alzheimer’s, assists him with both reading and character development. Nyla is a bullied girl who helps Hutch study in return for watching her back—this develops into a deeper friendship.

I liked reading about Hutch’s transformation, as well as how he interacted with the other characters. Many bad things happen to him and around him, but there are good things as well. The author doesn’t sugarcoat situations but presents them in a realistic way and in a positive light.
Profile Image for Cathrina Constantine.
Author 20 books372 followers
August 12, 2014
This is the first book by the prolific author, C. Lee. McKenzie that I've had the pleasure of reading and it won't be the last.

I'm significantly impressed by Ms. McKenzie's young adult voice. It's right on. I admit it was difficult to read at first due to the Double Negatives. And then I found myself devouring those passages, mainly because the voice sounded vaguely familiar, like my own as a kid.
"I ain't got no money."
Hutch McQueen, born to a dysfunctional family, and just trying to get by can't seem to fly under the radar. Since I don't provide spoilers, I can say I groaned at one point, caught up in Hutch's dilemma.

It would be nice to live in a society of well rounded children nourished by loving parents and family. Though, sadly Double Negative is not a new story, but one that should be read by all.
Profile Image for Yvonne Ventresca.
Author 11 books558 followers
July 17, 2014
Double Negative features a main character, Hutch, who struggles with high school (and the double negatives of grammar) along with the more serious problem of having an absent father and an abusive mother. The lack of parental supervision and any loving care forms a different type of double negative he must overcome. Desperate enough to steal rather than starve, Hutch makes a series of choices that will land him in jail unless he accepts help from a reformed-delinquent-turned priest and a retired teacher suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The atypical romantic subplot and the cast of well-developed unusual schoolmates add further dimension to the story. Readers will root for Hutch’s happiness as he tries to rise about his dire circumstances.
Profile Image for Michelle.
264 reviews67 followers
April 3, 2019
I recognize the troubled persona because there is a Hutch McQueen in almost every class I teach.
The impact that people like Father Kerry and Maggie Scott have on the lives of these kids cannot be measured. The world needs more Father Kerrys and Maggie Scotts.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
Author 4 books52 followers
December 3, 2014
I could tell within pages that this book was pure genius and it only became more apparent the deeper I was pulled into the story. I devoured it as quickly as I could… and now it’s over! :( I wish there was some way that it could be a series, just so I could have more! I have already been perusing the author’s other works, debating over which one to read next.

The best part about this book was the progression, not just of the characters, but of the writing style. It literally shifts throughout the book as Hutch grows and changes. Hutch is an easy character to root for, but only because we can see the truth of who he is from the beginning. I can easily imagine how hard it would be for anyone on the outside to get to know him, or even to give him a chance.

The secondary characters are just as amazing as Hutch, and the tenuous connections between them all in the beginning strengthen throughout the story. Nyla is probably my favorite, with her soft spoken demeanor and low self esteem. I wanted to protect and encourage her. Along with all the other misguided miscreants!

I was pleasantly surprised when this book didn’t degrade into swears, as many teens often have a tendency to fall back on that kind of language. Maybe that makes it not quite believable, since it’s not realistic to think that these kids never swear. BUT it made this book more approachable for parents, and allowed the writing style to shine.

I can’t recommend this book enough. <3

A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Darby Karchut.
Author 21 books254 followers
July 16, 2014
C. Lee McKenzie cannot write a bad book. Her style is so lyrical and her teen “voice” in this one is so perfect that I had serious author envy the entire time I was reading. I loved all her other books, but this one is her best work yet. Hutch is a character that is so real and has so much depth, that I devoured his story in two nights. Without giving away the plot, let me say that Hutch is the poster child for so many students who struggle with crappy home lives and difficulties in school (in Hutch’s case –reading). This is a bright kid who just needs some extra help.

And, boy, does he get that help in the form of an ex-street thug turned priest (Father Kerry) and a retired school teacher, (Maggie Scott). Between the two of them, they manage to help Hutch realize that he must take control of his own life and make the choice to succeed or fail.

One of the best things C. Lee McKenzie did in this book is give the adult characters as much depth as the teens, something that is too often lacking in YA books. My favorite is Hutch’s father, Jimmie. A good old boy from Texas, he starts out acting like an absentee parent, but as the story move along, I was thrilled to see Jimmie grow and take on the responsibilities of a pretty decent father.

Double Negative is one of the best YA novels I’ve read this year. Highly recommended and a must-have for every high school library.

Profile Image for Christine Rains.
Author 59 books235 followers
August 31, 2015
Hutchinson McQueen's mom is a drunk and his father is always on the road. But being sixteen, he's stuck with them until he's old enough to go his own way. Barely squeaking by in school, Hutch is caught at the wrong place at the wrong time and he's sentenced to six month in a new juvenile program. The priest and the forgetful old woman infuriate him, but they start him on a journey that will change his life forever. Whether that be good or bad is up to Hutch.

I usually don't read YA contemporaries, but this book surprised me with its realistic, no punches pulled plot. The author paints a realistic picture of a dysfunctional family, and not just one example, but several of them through Hutch and his friends. It was dismal, and even more depressing to see that the kids saw no way out of their crappy lives, so they acted out in crappy ways. Father Kerry and Maggie Scott make big differences in these kids' lives, but by no means have it easy themselves. Maggie is on the brink of Alzheimer's, and I can only imagine how frightening that is for someone with such a sharp mind. Not only is she there for Hutch, but he's there for her too.

This story definitely pulled at my heartstrings. Amazing characters and marvelous plot. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Jacqui.
Author 66 books183 followers
May 16, 2017
When we meet Hutchinson "Hutch" McQueen in C. Lee McKenzie's Double Negative (Evernight Teen 2014), he seems like a typical hopeless juvenile delinquent. He cares nothing about school, hangs out with the wrong people, and is always in trouble. Good riddance--right? Then we find out his mother hates him whether she's drunk or not. She beats him, threatens him, and blames him for her problems. His truckdriver father is kind enough but never home. Besides two parents who barely have time for him, it's amazing that none of his teachers ever noticed he has a severe reading disability. I suppose that his reputation as a slaggard overcomes any thoughts that there might be a different reason. We also find out that despite his upbringing and his bad luck, he still cares.

This is Hutch's story of out-of-control events, perceptions that belie reality, and a life poorly lived. It is highly recommended for all teens and all teachers of teens as a reminder that a helping hand may get bitten most of the time, but not always. Sometimes, it's worth it.
1 review
July 21, 2014
Another good book from C. Lee. It’s important for young adults to know that adversity is part of life’s journey. That adversity is a better teacher than good fortune. That adversity brings with it the development of new skills and new friends. In other words it’s a source of growth and development.
Double Negative is a book I will recommend to all the young adults in my extended family of relatives and friends. Especially when I hear them complain that life is not fair. The story of the hero, Hutch, is one of turning adversity into growth and development. Of making lemonade from the lemons he has been given by nature’s casualness.
Profile Image for Kate Larkindale.
Author 13 books121 followers
December 17, 2017
There are lots of kids out there like Hutch, the main character in this book. But unlike Hutch, not all of them manage to turn their lives around.

This is an inspirational story about how you can change, rise above the circumstances that seem certain to condemn you to a future as bleak as your present.

I enjoyed it very much and believe anyone who can make a difference to someone’s life should take that chance. Sometimes all it takes is a single word.
295 reviews14 followers
August 13, 2014
Everybody knows how much I like C. Lee McKenzie. The 1st one I read, The Princess of Las Pulgas, was great. The 2nd one, Sliding on the Edge, wasn't far behind. And now we have Double Negative. And speaking of negative, if I tell you that it's my least favorite of the 3, don't take that the wrong way. I still liked it quite a bit. Lee is in that fairly slim category of authors for me where I like all of their work. And in a situation like that, obviously you will have your favorites. So now that I'm done with my mea culpa, let Goodreads give you Double Negative's storyline.

"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't go into the slammer before that happened." Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped in a dysfunctional family. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.

Here's the thing about Lee's books - you care about the characters right away. And she starts DN with Hutch being in the principal's office, again, on the 1st page. So right away you know that he's got problems. And those continue through much of the book. I think we all like redemption stories, but they have to feel realistic. You have to care about the protagonists right away and be rooting for them, but it needs to take most of the book before he or she gets there. That's definitely the case in DN.

It's also really important to have the supporting cast matter. In this case, there's Hutch's friend and fellow student Nyla. There's Father Kerry, former bad boy turned priest. There's Heather, Father Kerry's friend and (probably) ex-lover, and her mother, Maggie, who is showing beginning signs of Alzheimer's but who teaches Hutch some valuable lessons. And let's not forget Hutch's mom, Dee Dee, who has a habit of just up and leaving Hutch alone for days on end. Or his father, who tries his best but is just not cut out for single parenting (a tough assignment for anybody, I would guess). There are more. I don't think it's that easy to bring in a whole bunch of disparate characters and make them matter - without any of them overwhelming the main (anti-)hero or heroine. Lee does this masterfully. My tear-o-meter definitely responded to many of them.

I also have to say that although I connected with Hutch right away, I didn't know for quite awhile whether or not I liked him. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Did it color my enjoyment of the book? Maybe a little. Hard to say. But I do know that it didn't prevent me from tearing up on pages 106, 116, 120, 123, 125, 135, and 136, among others. So I guess I emotionally connected to Hutch more than I thought. Maybe I need to do some reevaluating. Hmm, I'll think about that.

Whether you're a crier or not, Double Negative is certainly worth reading. And while you're at it, if you haven't done this already, pick up Lee's The Princess of Las Pulgas and Sliding on the Edge. You won't be sorry that you read any of these 3 YA novels.
Profile Image for Tbird London.
558 reviews4 followers
December 5, 2014
I found this book really touched me since I use to work with kids such as Hutch. Those that don’t come from supportive and nurturing homes have never been taught social skills nor had their confidence built. Just like Hutch, they come from families where the father is absent and the mother is abusive. The only thing they learn at home is survival.

Hutch was a high school student who faces this kind of home life every day and then goes to high school and struggles with his school work. You see he also has issues with his sight and inability to read. His choices that he makes are usually bad one, landing him in court sessions and risking more than he can afford to lose. At one point his future really only appears to be death or prison but then three angels come to his aid.

Father Kerry who used to be a hell raiser in his own youth, is now a reformed man and active priest. He sees what Hutch could become if he would allow someone to guide him and love him. Maggie used to teach school but now deals with her own Alzheimer’s. She wants to teach him to read, to better himself and show him that there is more to him than what he has been told. Then we have Nyla, a girl who is terribly bullied in school. She can help him learn and make good choices if he will protect her from the harm the bullies dish out to her.
This is his second chance, but really with the life this kid has been handed, it is more like his first chance. The author writes Hutch’s character in a way that you really feel you are dealing with a teenager, an angry, ignorant, hopeless teenager. It is heartbreaking to see where he is heading especially after realizing he does have people to help. I have to state though, I could never hate him for not trusting these three right away. He comes from an environment that is anything but trustworthy. He is vulnerable to danger due to his eye sight. His knowledge of the world comes from the trials of surviving since his reading is limited. How can we fault him for his mistakes when life set him up to fail?

This was a powerful read; one that I really felt connected to and had emotions flowing. I commend the author for bringing such topics to life as she did in this book. Make sure you pay close attention to the scenes discussing the “hushes”, so endearing. The ending was beautiful, yet sad for me. You have to read it to understand but the evolution that the author takes Hutch and each of the characters on is brilliant. They all change and grow in the process of this book. This is one I would recommend to readers but be prepared to feel emotions that will be all over the place and I hope it sparks some desire to reach out to kids like Hutch. Every community has them, each need a Father Kerry, Maggie and Nyla in their corner.
Profile Image for Jennifer Juers.
395 reviews
December 3, 2014

Double Negative by C Lee McKenzie is a story about a sixteen year old boy, Hutch McQueen, who's growing up with parents who are apart. His dad is a trucker and his mom is a drunk and possibly a whore. He cannot read well so he has a fellow student that he relies on to read the chapters to him so that he can memorize them for tests. He's also a very good listener. He just wants to pass, nothing over the top. Just to get his parents off of his back.

He has made some bad choices in school. I think the choices he made are the choices he was given being raised the way he is. When the parents don't partake in their kids lives, they kind of have to figure it out on their own. And besides, if the parent doesn't care why should he? It engrains them with a different outlook on life and not a good one unfortunately.

He leaves his home because he's sick of his mom and there never being any food and only beer in the fridge. So he relies on a good friend of his to stay with which goes sour real fast and he finds himself in even more trouble. He is required to attend a new program called the Youth Intervention Program after hours at his school. The school he can't stand to be at for the eight hours he's supposed to be there. He must go for a period of six months. If he fails to attend, he will be sent to court and suffer the system.

What I enjoyed about the story the most is that even though his parents weren't there to help him the anything he had others that come into his life like Father Kerry. He's the leader of the Youth Prevention Program and wants to take Hutch under his wing and let him know that he too had problems when he was a youth. There's also Nyla who also has had a tough life for being bullied for her weight and has no other friends but Hutch. The pivotal moment is when he meets Maggie.

Sometimes meeting the right people can change your life! I appreciated how C Lee McKenzie told the story, it felt so real and it's was easy to relate to the characters especially Hutch. Job well done! 4 stars
Profile Image for Kirke.
902 reviews46 followers
December 4, 2014
4.5 stars

I wouldn't call Hutch a troubled boy, then rather say he's drowning. A drunk mom who doesn't want him, a dad who's always on the road and teachers who have no clue how to reach him. Hutch just knows that he wants out, but doesn't see the purpose of a high school diploma or doing his best. So far he's been cruising along by listening to the smart people around him and with the help of his friend Nyla.

When his friends and his home situation put him in trouble with the law, it seems his streak is over. Given a second and even third chance, Hutch needs to participate in an after school program to get him back on the right track. Not an easy for for a guy who just doesn't care. Still jail is not a place he wants to be, so he goes to the meetings.

It's almost strange for Hutch that he slowly gathers people around him that he can rely on and actually demand that he takes responsibility for his future. I really liked the fact that there was no epiphany moment for Hutch. Multiple bad things happen to and around him throughout the book, and it's a slow learning process for him.

The fact why he has trouble with school is almost ridiculous. It's something the average person takes for granted, and shows me how effed up reality can be. For the rest is Hutch a regular sixteen-year-old boy, who has no clue when it comes to women. Mostly though I liked how he actually deep down wanted to improve and did care. It just wasn't easy to get to that point.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and Hutch, a young character with real struggles. Romance certainly takes a backseat, but I didn't mind one bit. The focus on his personal struggles and the troubles around him, were almost refreshing. A story for when you need a break from lovey-dovey romance, with very loveable characters and great depth on all levels.

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for The Pink Bookshelf.
113 reviews19 followers
June 7, 2015
Hutch McQueen is known as a trouble maker. Hutch is trapped in a very broken and unfit family. His father can’t stand to be in one place too long so he is constantly on the road with his rig and his mother is a drunk. Hutch wants nothing more than to escape from the hole he’s trapped in. Problem is everything he does to try to dig himself out of this hole only gets him into more trouble. Unable to overcome poor reading skills, he barely gets by in school by listening to others and memorizing bits of what he’s heard.

Hutch is sentenced to a youth program from troubled teens when he is caught stealing. That is when he meets Father Kerry and Maggie Scott. All they want to do is help Hutch but he doesn’t want any part of it. When Hutch is faced with some serious charges, he must finally decide if he wants to sink and continue down the path he’s going, or to swim and learn to make the right choices to climb out of his hole.

I really enjoyed this story. At first Hutch seems like the typical bad boy, troubled teen. But as we get to know him, he’s just trying to survive the only way he knows how. The kid has dreams and hope, I think he’s just a little misguided. Once we get through the tough exterior, Hutch becomes a totally different person. You really start to feel for the poor guy once you get to know his real problems. I loved watching him mature as a person while facing such hard circumstances. I was so proud of him during several moments in the second half of the book.

Maggie is another incredible character. She is so funny! Whether she was correcting someone’s grammar or scolding someone for their behavior, she had me cracking up several times. She is just so witty and spunky. Maggie also has her own problems that she must face. I really like how Maggie and Hutch end up both needing each other. It was so sweet and unexpected.
Profile Image for Fen'Harel.
210 reviews45 followers
February 26, 2016
This novel focuses on the despair of a teenager running in the same circles his parents did. Although he wants to break free from their failures, he finds himself joining them in a slow descent.
Hutch, the protagonist, has an inability to read or seek help for any of his problems. He prefers being on his own and letting the pieces fall as they may; until he gets into some serious trouble. Now, he has to attend a meeting with other troubled students and a Priest who shared the same path as them at one point. As Hutch learns the true value of friendship and kindness, his other relationships begin to change. His only friend which he dubbed 'Fat Nyla', is bullied for being smart and overweight. However, when Hutch begins to learn his true worth and reflect it upon the people in his life, she begins to learn hers too, and reach out for what she truly wants.
This book had me gripped from beginning to end. Each character was fascinating, from the Spanish girl who would make oddly sexual comments in class to the boy who had to leave town because his father was getting out of jail. These tiny side characters had so much to offer! The language was spot on, which meant the reader would understand the kind of barriers Hutch had to overcome.
This book is worth the buy! It shows an accurate display of struggling kids in the modern era and sends a message that sometimes all you need to do is listen to the people around you.
Profile Image for Merissa (Archaeolibrarian).
3,480 reviews97 followers
December 2, 2014
I received this book from Xpresso Book Tours as part of their blog tour, in return for a fair and honest review.

Wow, this book packs a punch in more ways than one. It is tough and gritty and doesn't spare your feelings as you read through. You will be neck deep in teenage angst, abuse, drugs, body issues, bullying but also friendships, teamwork and mentorship. This book covers it all and in such a way that you won't be able to stop turning the pages. You will need to read "just a little bit more."

One thing I will say is that I actually found it quite hard to read at the beginning before I got used to Hutch's 'voice'. I actually found it quite painful which is funny when you're not actually reading it. I was very pleased with him as he started to correct his grammar!

As he changes his attitude and takes up 'swimming', I found the book progressed in a wonderful and heartwarming way. His relationship with Maggie in particular brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion.

I thought the whole book dealt with subjects usually swept under the carpet and in a rough, in your face, dignified and respectful manner. Does that sentence not make sense to you? Read Double Negative and it will make perfect sense!
Profile Image for Tyrean.
Author 45 books84 followers
September 4, 2014
Wow! I just finished Double Negative five minutes ago, and now I'm sorting through that after the book "wow" moment.

C. Lee Mckenzie knows how to portray real people with real problems in real conversations and situations in a way that reels readers in and then takes them on an incredibly journey of the heart and mind.

Hutch is a gritty, attitude-filled teen with problems. At first, I was hesitant to go on a journey with him. He's tough and almost unlikeable until he shows his heart of gold underneath all the mess of his life. He's worth the chances given to him, and his friends, some of whom seem completely unlikeable at first, are worth those chances too.

I loved this story of heartache and triumph. The relationships and the characters leapt off the pages and wound their way into my imagination.

Double Negative tackles issues like drug use, language use, drunk and abusive parenting, death, love, friendship, trust, and illiteracy.

1 review
July 21, 2014
Double Negative turns out to be a double positive: for Hutch McQueen, who finally gets himself on the right path and for Maggie Scott, who, despite an Alzheimer's diagnosis, is instrumental in Hutch's reversal of bad habits and behavior.

Once again, C Lee McKenzie spins a tale of young adults presented with problems typical of their age — bullies, lack of self-confidence -- and not so typical -- dyslexia, eating disorders, and absent parents. She guides Hutch, Nyla, Wang, and Meeker to solve their problems, using their challenges as learning opportunities.

Congratulations to C Lee McKenzie for another novel where negative themes give way to positive themes -- this time, of giving gratitude and letting go of hate.
3 reviews
September 19, 2014

I won this book in a give-away and it seems to have been sent straight from the author. Thanks for that.

As for the book itself, it tells a story as it happens all too often — a lost teenager, borderline abusive-neglective parents, no way out except for drug dealing and the like — with an ending that is happier than many but still plausible enough.

Narration is strictly stream of consciousness from the perspective of Hutch, the main character, which feels authentic and flows easily, but leaves the other characters — who do have potential — feel a bit shadow-like and underdeveloped. 50 or so more pages to this rather short read would have fulfilled a lot of this story’s potential and maybe help it transcendent the YA genre. Nevertheless, a good read.
Profile Image for Bish Denham.
Author 7 books36 followers
March 12, 2016
Having worked with abused, neglected, and emotionally disturbed children for 23 years, Hutch's story is familiar and all too real. He is, at first, not a very likable character, but one can certainly sympathize with him. He has an alcoholic mother, an absent father, and no one to turn to except other kids who are basically in the same boat. On top of that, he hates school.

What I found most endearing is that even though Hutch acts and sounds like a mean tough, underneath lurks a naive and tender heart. But will a priest and a elder lady with Alzheimer's rest him before it's too late?
Profile Image for Dunja *a chain reader*.
177 reviews84 followers
February 12, 2015
4.5 stars

Double Negative is just amazing. Reading it felt like being on emotional roller-coaster.

So this is a story about Hutchinson McQueen and a group of teens who end up in the special program with him. All main characters are underdogs and although 16 years old they have seen and been through enough bad things. Their choices are limited and due to that these kids are forced to make bad choices and moves...

Full review available on Night Owl Reviews
Profile Image for Leigh-ann Brodber.
60 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2016
Hutchinson McQueen in Double Negative is far different compared to the rest of characters in any other hard-hitting novel I’ve read so far. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t sound like any of the other characters from other novels but, instead, like a real person who was recounting his success story. I still held my breath at parts where it seemed as if Hutch was going to get hit with the book and make friends with the kids in Juvie but he always seemed to have someone by his side that would throw him a life vest. Read the full review on The Young Folks: http://tinyurl.com/hyq637f
Profile Image for Alexa.
655 reviews35 followers
May 3, 2016
Actual Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
Ahh, I did love this book <3 Admittedly, it didn't start out that way, but by the time I was about halfway through I adored everything about it: plot, charries, writing, everything. Particularly Nyla and Maggie. They were boss <3
If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on this book, you can find the full review on Verbosity Reviews.
69 reviews4 followers
November 25, 2014
I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review. Thanks so much!

Wow. This is a great coming of age novel. There are a lot of summaries on here, so I'll just say that if you are interested in YA/coming of age, this book is definitely worth your time. I could actually see it becoming a required reading in schools.
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