Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Absolute Value of Mike



Mike spends his summer with his father's aunt and uncle, an elderly couple who cared for Mike's father during the summers of his childhood. Mike tries hard to please his father, but there is little his father is interested in outside of mathematics, a subject Mike struggles with. In fact, Mike's dad often seemed to be somewhere on the autsim spectrum to me, with his inability to relate to people and his laser-like focus on math.

When Mike arrives in Do Over (the N no longer present on the town's welcom sign), he enters a world unlike one he has ever known. His great-uncle Poppy is catatonic, not moving or speaking after the death of his son Douglas. His great-aunt Moo is more than a little hard of hearing making for some hilarious misunderstandings. And they are poor- so poor they can't pay their electicity bill or phone bill.

Add to this quirky cast of characters a homeless man who isn't really homeless and becomes Mike's good friend and advisor as Mike is elected to plan the adoption of Misha from an orphanage in Romania by Do Over's local minister.

Erskine's latest novel is a funny, yet thoughtful, look at a boy who tries to find his own talents despite what he thinks is expected of him. The Absolute Value of Mike is another wonderful tween novel by Erskine.

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