NothingNothing by Janne Teller
My rating: 5/5 cats
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the beginning part of this book reminded me of my very favorite part in john gardner’s grendel, where two characters are ass-kickingly fighting, but also having a philosophical debate at the same time. this starts out like that, only with less howling. this is teen fiction, so the weapons being pelted are plums, and everyone gets to keep their arms (for now), but that doesn’t mean this is sweet valley high: there will be blood and sacrifice and deep dark nihilism in these 13-year-olds before we are through.

this is my favorite type of story, where kids revert to savagery when they are put into an isolating situation. in this case, it is emotional isolation rather than physical, lord of the flies style, but it is serious.

quick plot summary tho i hate to do it: 7th grade class, one kid “realizes” that nothing means anything and so climbs a tree and stays there for months, shouting his newfound beliefs and infuriating the rest of the kids in his class. they decide to prove to him that life has meaning. they begin to accumulate a “pile of meaning,” willingly giving up what matters to them in order to prove him wrong, because he is starting to get into their heads and cause doubt. but who wants to give up the thing that matters most to them, at thirteen? and what kid is going to allow his classmate to cheat and give up something lesser, while hoarding their treasures? so they begin choosing for each other, forcing others to give up increasingly meaningful parts of themselves. and now it’s a party, and it’s going to get messy.

most authors would stop heredeliver a little cautionary allegory all tidied up. but there is a little more to it here. a little more of the dark.

ariel has recommended a tremendous book to me, and now i pass it along to you.

for fun, google image “pile of meaning” with your kiddie filters turned off. oh, my…

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