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. But when he gets there, nothing is what he thought it would be. The project has nothing at all to do with engineering, and he finds himself working alongside his wacky eighty-something- year-old aunt, a homeless man, and a punk rock girl as part of a town-wide project to adopt a boy from Romania. Mike may not learn anything about engineering, but what he does learn is far more valuable.
When I first received The Absolute Value of Mike I admit, I wasn’t planning on reading it. The cover made the book seem childish and uninteresting to me. You can imagine my surprise that when I did read it, I couldn’t put it down- I read it in one day. I haven’t read Kathryn Erskine’s first book, Mockingbird, but if I recall correctly, it was talked about a lot.
The Absolute Value of Mike was a surprise to me because it featured a younger main character (I believe he was 14) and it is hilarious, but it is still really deep. I felt horrible for Mike, his father is always distracted and his mother isn’t around anymore. He was a really strong character and had to basically raise himself, and I admire that. His “distant relatives” were amazing as well. The crazy town mixed in with all of those things made The Absolute Value of Nothing a slam dunk on my list of books.
Kathryn Erskine has a way of writing that sounds a little bit like middle grade novels, but descends past that into being more influential and deep. This novel was really addicting and really amazing, and I can’t wait to read more of Kathryn Erskine’s books! I highly recommend The Absolute Value of Mike.