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The Absolute Value of Mike
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The Absolute Value of Mike

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,395 ratings  ·  282 reviews
Mike tries so hard to please his father, but the only language his dad seems to speak is calculus. And for a boy with a math learning disability, nothing could be more difficult. When his dad sends him to live with distant relatives in rural Pennsylvania for the summer to work on an engineering project, Mike figures this is his big chance to buckle down and prove himself. ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 9th 2011 by Philomel Books
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Showing 1-30
3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,395 ratings  ·  282 reviews

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Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlit, middle-grade
I feel like this book needed one more pass through the revision process. The potential was really there. I loved the kooky people of Do Over and their community spirit, and how Mike found his "absolute value" through his project with them. However, a lot of it just rang false and dead horses were beaten. For example, Mike's CONSTANT freak-out about Patch's "homelessness" bordered on obnoxious, as did his treatment of his grieving great-uncle. It seemed like Erskine couldn't be subtle about anyth ...more
Mike Frost is 14 years old, and ever since his mother died, he has been almost solely responsible for the care of his father, a brilliant math & engineering professor, who's fantastic with numbers, and terrible at managing life. Mike's own dyscalculia (a math disability) proves a sticking point between he and his father. To help solve this, Mike's father announces that while he will be teaching overseas for the summer, Mike will go to stay with relatives in rural Pennsylvania, to help build ...more
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorite-books
My son and I are reading this together
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Too hyper for me. Also, too much like a sappy Kate DiCamillo story. Or a Hallmark movie. And the portrait of Moo is ridiculously disrespectful. Little old ladies are not children, they are Elders.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of books with quirky odd characters as you may or may not know, and this book definitely delivers. The story is set in a small PA town. Mike moves in with his elderly (octogenerian) aunt and uncle when his socially awkward overweight father goes to Romania for the summer. They are not your typical seniors. Moo is a very active woman with awful eyesight and a lot of great one liners. Poppy doesn't move. He sits in the same chain in his duck slippers and only will eat scrapple. Both ...more
Stewie's Mom
Dec 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: december-2011
This was an upbeat story filled with likable characters. This story is aimed at preteen readers, but I enjoyed it just the same.
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Mike takes care of his father, who is a rather absent-minded mathematical genius. But Mike is definitely not mathematical, despite his father’s hopes. When Mike’s father decides to send him to spend the summer with distant relatives in rural Pennsylvania to work on an engineering project, Mike sees it as a way to finally prove himself to his father. Mike discovers far more than an engineering project when he arrives. In fact, there is no engineering project at all. There is his wild-driving near ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book took me awhile to get into it; I felt like Erskine might have struggled with the start as well, but once the story got going, it took me away. The biggest challenge was understanding some of the more bizarre characters. Their conversations were just difficult to follow. As I came to understand them, though, they became more interesting, and I was able to appreciate them more fully.

I really enjoyed the story; it was definitely in the feel-good category. I loved the premise and enjoyed
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I absolutely love this book, it is the perfect middle grade boy book and really quite different from Kathryn Erskine's National Book Award winning Mockingbird in that it features a boy character and has a lighter, funnier tone.

Mike has a hard time relating to his mathematical genius father, especially since he did not acquire the math genius gene and has dyscalculia, a mathematical disability. When his father leaves the country to teach for 6 weeks, Mike is left to the care of his elderly Great
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely story! Mike is an endearing young protagonist who has to grow up too soon due to his father's total lack of basic social and living skills (he is too busy thinking about math and engineering) and the loss of his mother. When he is packed off to live with his crazy great aunt and despondent uncle, he quickly finds himself immersed in the quirky small town that is dying for his energy, youth, and ability to lead.
The story that unfolds is painful, beautiful, honest, and sweet, all cou
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2011
I was laughing from page 1! Mike's genius father is teaching a 6-week class in Romania, and so 14-year-old Mike has to go to Pennsylvania with his great-aunt and -uncle. His relatives are in their 80s, their son recently died, and Poppy hasn't moved out of his armchair since. Moo's eyesight is failing, and she trusts her car Tyrone to drive her where she needs to go. Mike is at first alarmed by this environment he's been dropped into, but he soon rallies to help the community raise $40,000 in 3 ...more
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kid-lit
Another "gotta read" from Kathy Erskine. This book is lighter than MOCKINGBIRD, with quirky and sometimes very funny, characters. It shows her ability to write in a lighter mode, but with the same strong prose as her earlier works. And there are some great messages here: for kids--it's important to find your unique gifts; for parents--don't mold your children to be replicas of yourself. And for all of us, a great reminder that few people are what they appear to be on the surface!
Marianne Robin-Tani
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a hard-core noir police procedural with lots of murder and gore, look someplace else. If you want a funny book about quirky people who are living wacky lives and being nice to each other, dig right in and enjoy. Well written, caring and lots of fun. And the audiobook reader did a terrific job--the voices he used for all the characters and his comedic timing were excellent. Bravo!
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: realistic-fic, grief
I can't stop thinking about how Mike "cures" two deeply depressed people (both dealing with overwhelming grief) by basically yelling at them to get over it. That is not how people get over depression and it is sending the wrong message to students. I loved parts of this book, but some parts are just so wrong that I'm changing to 2.5 stars.
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Credulity-straining but oh-so-cute. Clever bits are designed to appeal to middle grade boys, I think. And I think they will do so. This is compulsively readable, nearly impossible to put down. Dyscalculia, a dad on the spectrum, acres of dead people and an improbably competent kid all combine to make a really fun, really engaging story.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-and-youth, 2016
I really enjoyed Mockingbird and had hoped this book would be as good but I was quite disappointed. If I'd read this one first, I doubt I would have picked up another Erskine book. Filled with quirky characters, everyone is feeling sorry for himself until Mike yells at them.
Jun 03, 2011 marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
tabii ki okumak istememin tek nedeni halamın çevirmesi değil
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very cute story, written very well. There ARE different ways to excel.
Katherine J
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
General Comments: Yay! I quite liked this book, it's great for people of any ages to read, topics of loss and power.

Cover- yeah, it's ok I guess. I feel like some of the miniature pictures on the cover didn't really make any sense or connect to the story, but some of them reflected great symbolism. 4/5

Characters- OOOO this was like, my favorite part of the story. I loved the characters and their different perspectives and actions, and some of their actions surprising. Kathryn Erskine did reallyy
Jaqueline Marcos
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Highly recommended, this book didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had for it. My son read it first and loved it, which gives it value to me as he’s not an easy reader to please.
The pace of this book about a boy trying to Find his own path in life is good; the characters are fun; the storyline sweet. Almost cloyingly. However, it will strike a chord with middle grade readers for sure.
Mike is sent to live with his older relatives for a special time working on an “artesian screw,” an engine
Jen Traub
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the crazy characters, and Mike’s journey to learn his own value. The perspectives of the Dad were good- how mike sees him versus how Moo does. Interesting characterization across the board- three stooges, Past, Moo and Poppy...

I didn’t like the stereotypical ness of some, such as Gladys (tattoos and piercings means she wants the world at an arms length). I was disappointed that she stressed how Misha looks like Mike but that was super unimportant (no big reveal). I also was disappoint
Chandler Corpus
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
To be completely honest, this book was a bit boring. It was nice to read something new but there were lots of things that I just did not like. The plot was soooooo slow to advance. I love to read the plot and story line to a book but this book just did not have the potential. The characters were a bit funny but I feel like this book should be taken more seriously. It was extremely boring to read. There wasn't really any action involved and the details were poor and straight forward. This book co ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started this book just before school ended but I left it locked up in my classroom over the summer. I finally found it again so I decided to read it over Thanksgiving break. I got this book because I've loved another work by the author.

She does quirky characters really well. In this case, the main character suffers from dyscalculia and from adults who don't connect well with reality. Most of the characters are suffering from loss. All of them have good hearts but.....

I'll be recommending this
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
The Absolute Value of Mike is a story about Mike, a young boy with dyscalculia. His Father, a math genius wants Mike to follow in his footsteps as a math engineer. Mike is sent away to live with his grandma Moo and grandpa. In the town of "Do Over" Mike has to work with the town to help raise money to adopt a child. I enjoyed the message that people can fix their problems and try again, hence the name “Do Over”. A quote that stuck with me was, “He kept giving me sad-puppy looks while he emphasi ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this with one of my guided reading groups. I kept looking for something to dislike about the book besides the author's horrible taste in music. The only other problem I could find was that, in the end, the value of "people skills" seems to be placed on a pedestal above the value of hard sciences, reversing the dad's initial emphasis on engineering. Mike's fixed mindset is reinforced when he says that he'll never be good at engineering or math, and that he's going to focus on the people sk ...more
Dain Frisby-Dart
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cvtc-kidlit
This one was a disappointment. Although I can always appreciate the humor in storytelling, the characters in this one seemed more like caricatures than the real and flawed humans that were supposedly engaged in some pretty serious struggles. Loss of loved ones, poverty, homelessness, child/parent relations are all woven into this story but the constant snarkiness and goofiness of the characters was just too unbelievable and didn't quite mesh with the what was going on in the story for me. I have ...more
MaKenzie Parish
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a very detailed and emotional book. To me I love this book. So this book is about a kid named mike and his dad is a very smart math person. Well mike is not good at math so his dad sends him to his grandparent house. But what he did nit know is that this town is really different (weird). They are trying to get a kid but they need to make more the 4000000 dollars and mike is in charge.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Picked this up purely because of the title. It's the coming-of-age story of a teenage boy growing up with a father on the autism spectrum. There is very little actual math in the story, aside from the chapter titles. And I'd say overall the story is probably more appropriate for 10-year-olds even though the main character is 14.
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Kathryn Erskine spent many years as a lawyer before realizing that she'd rather write things that people might actually enjoy reading.
She grew up mostly overseas and attended eight different schools, her favorite being the Hogwarts-type castle in Scotland.
The faculty, of course, did not consist of wizards, although... how did the headmistress know that it was the wee redhead who led the campaign
“I don’t trust those little computer elves. They might run off with my money.” 0 likes
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