Book Review: Zero by Tom Leveen

Zero by Tom Leveen is a young adult novel about the aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who calls herself Zero. Her home life is less than stellar, with her father drinking all the time and her parents arguing daily. She had plans to go away to a great art school and escape, but when her scholarship fell through all her plans went up in smoke. Her best friend Jenn is not in the picture, after an awkward situation, and Zero feels lost. One night she heads out to a local club to lose herself in some punk music. Somehow she finds the courage to talk to a drummer, Mike, who's eyes capture her attention. Amidst doubts about her talent and fear for the future, Zero and Mike find themselves working towards their goals together and encouraging each other. Is Zero's art really worth continuing, will Mike's band find success, and will success bring them together or tear them apart?

Zero is a great novel about following your dreams, while still staying grounded. I really liked that Zero grows and changes in the novel, evolving to better understand herself and those around her. She starts off showing more respect for her father, because he seems to offer her more support and freedom, but comes to respect her mother's inner strength and love. Zero has several moments of thought that include running away from it all. She considers cashing in her education account, but does not. This is partly in fear and doubt in herself, but it is also because she knows that it would be breaking her parent's trust. The development of Zero and Mike's relationship is full of the doubt and stomach butterflies that naturally comes with teen relationships. I think all aspects of the relationship were handled extremely well. I also liked the fact that Zero is not a fairy tale story, it is realistic and full of the decisions that people really have to make, with no perfect choice.

I highly recommend Zero to young adult and adult readers. It is a story that captured my attention on the first page and had me reading well past the time I had intended to go to sleep. Zero, Mike, and the other characters  are complex and thoroughly realistic. I feel like they might really be wondering around somewhere working toward their dreams. Zero was so real to me that I was amazed that Leveen could so thoroughly understand the inner workings of a teenage girl's mind.
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