The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero. So what’s the absolute value of friendship? Of love? Just how far apart are we, anyway?
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 thw 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.”
I can honestly say I don’t remember ever reading a book quite like The Absolute Value of -1. Told in four points of view, the book follows three friends, Lily, Simon and Noah, through a few months of their grade ten school year. The story is raw, honest and unapologetic. Lily, Simon and Noah exist in (what we called in high school) the “druggie” clique. All three smoke (cigarettes and weed), skip school and drink, are all quite smart and in Lily’s and Simon’s cases were/are on team sports. It’s not one or the other with these teens; they’re well rounded!
The story is literally a snap shot of life for these three friends, with all the ups, downs, tragedies and loves that come with high school. The main plot idea that I picked up on? What’s wrong with Simon. Throughout Lily’s and Noah’s sections, the reader is pulled in to the idea that something is up with Simon – that he’s different, and broody. The prologue and epilogue are told from the point of view of Suzanne, Simon’s sister, and it’s through Simon that everything we’re being shown comes together.
The best part of this book? The differences in events as seen through each teen. All three points of view start off at roughly the same time period, and the majority of the events are within each section, with Simon’s view continuing on past where Lily’s and Noah’s stops (because of this, I’d say Simon is probably more of the “main” character, with Lily and Noah being amazing supporting characters). Steve Brezenoff captured the small differences that come with different people each telling their side of a story, and each of the friends has their own distinct and wonderful voice. The Absolute Value of -1 is definitely worth the read!
Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group at NetGalley for providing me the eGalley of The Absolute Value of -1.