For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.
ZERO is an unflinching story of a seventeen-year-old teen artist and the overwhelming insecurities that go along with it. Tom Leveen uses words to paint images so vivid (just like the main character does) that you'd swear the pages were type-set in technicolor. Each word is a brushstroke, used to create an unforgettable picture. Like the music of the early 90s punk scene that ZERO is set in, the book grabs you by the throat, screaming at you to take notice. Tom Leveen's writing gives us a raw look at one girl's life in a voice that defies not to be heard. This book is not for the faint of heart; it deals honestly, painfully sometimes, with such heavy topics as alcoholism, family dysfunction, and the loss of innocence. The author has laid this character out bare, her soul exposed for us to see. Both we and Zero are better for of it.
ZERO is available now. I rate it M for Mature, not only for the aforementioned subjects, for rough language as well. In the older-teen world of punk bands such as Bad Religion and Social Distortion, the language, like the rest of the book, is an honest depiction.
One of my fav lines: "Our breath mingles between us, still dusted lightly with ice cream sugar."