In a gritty and yet honest portrayal of teenage life the truth is not always what we might wish for or want to acknowledge. In Steve Brezenoff’s The Absolute Value of-1 it turns out to also be all the things we might want to deny or hide as well. In the lives of three teenagers we find out adolescence is not always what it’s cracked up to be and those carefree days of high school are never quite what one wishes. Nor are they quite what we each remember.
Simon, Lily and Noah are your truly typical and somewhat average teens. Not the scrubbed clean, pink and bubbly type so often portrayed in young adult fiction but the real life damaged youths of reality so often ignored. Drugs, self esteem, sex and abuse all play significant roles in the lives of many teens and Brezenoff does not shrink from the role of a writer exploring reality within this work. He probes what hurts the most, digging the deepest into what really happens in the lives of teenagers often swept to the side either by neglectful parents, the school system or society itself.
The same events and time period are told from the viewpoint of each of the three “friends” creating a uniquely true picture of how different individuals can view the same conversation, confrontation or general body language of another person. This innovative version of storytelling forms a fascinating look at the psychology and personality of each individual, making the reader see each character as a person shaped by not only who they are but also by their circumstances and environment. Pushing the limits of traditional young adult fiction, Brezenoff is not afraid to get his hands dirty delving into the world of teen drug addiction, sex and parental abuse.
The Absolute Value of -1 may not be the feel good book expected in young adult fiction but it’s honesty is refreshing and many a teen will find a connection not available in other books written for their generation. Many a parent may be put off by the reality represented within its pages but Brezenoff’s book is simply one which is truly young adult and meant for those in the older range of the teen years. All in all it is refreshingly honest, bravely written and hard to put down. The book trailer is also a great portrayal of the title and it’s significance. I highly recommend this book for readers looking for “not your average YA” but do caution parents for young readers due to content.