The Minus-One Club

Holt. Jan. 2023. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250806208.
Gr 9 Up–High school sophomore Kermit Sanders has just lost his older sister Sheila in a drunk-driving accident. On his first day back at school he receives a mysterious note inviting him to what turns out to be the titular Minus-One Club, a group of classmates who have also experienced loss. While the group is for connection and companionship, Rule #1 of the club is: “We don’t talk about it.” Kermit forms an especially close bond with Matt, the only openly gay student in school, who lost his mom to cancer. Kermit has long struggled to suppress his own sexuality, having grown up in a church that frames homosexuality as a sin, but connecting with Matt allows him to begin to accept himself. This novel depicts teens dealing with heavy topics in a realistic way; their struggles are messy, nonlinear, and believable. While a book that centers on grief will undeniably deal with heavy topics, it should be noted that the story also depicts teen alcohol abuse, hate crimes, and a suicide attempt. Kermit is biracial; other characters’ races are not indicated.
VERDICT A raw coming-of-age story that illustrates the multi-faceted nature of grief and growing up.

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