I love when I can finish a book and say, “Well that was a nice change.” After reading Zero I have certainly built an appreciation for author Tom Leveen. The dialogue of his characters is so intensely real that you are engulfed completely in their lives. I adore dialogue in a book, only because I can visually set up a scene in my head that way. Plus the characters are more like firecrackers that can go off any moment. They can make you laugh or cry with a single word, and let me tell you there are a lot of firecracker moments in Tom Leveen’s Zero.
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Here’s the thing:
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 someone who I can identify with now and when I was a teen her age. She’s strutting along this perfectly laid out path for her future but financial reality kicks her to the curb. Which it probably does often to today’s youth. I personally feel that author Leveen really gets today’s youth. He introduces Zero at her worst but challenges her to think outside the box with characters like Mike and her art teacher. Instead of letting her throw her own pity party they push her to still take her dream by the horns. Zero’s character speaks volumes to today’s youth, telling readers that it may be a bit harder to achieve your dreams but as long as you keep trying you can still get there. The end of the road may even be something that you didn’t know that you wanted.
I feel I know Mike personally only because when he encourages Zero with her art he reminds me of my husband. He always speaks the truth and when he says he likes something, he truly does. Mike is the drummer in the band Gothic Rainbows who also has a dream but he see’s it very differently then Zero. He has a great passion for life and wants to enjoy the ride in achieving his dream. He is not in a great hurry to get there but wants to get there all the same. His last moments in the book were so good because you can feel how much he wants to be with Zero and how he just wants to see her become a successful artist.
There were sexual explicit moments in the book. I will say that for me, these moments did not in any way control the theme of Zero. I personally feel that these moments were honestly detailed and played out very realistically. I appreciated that Leveen did not romanticize these moments in the book; instead he put Zero and Mike in the real world, the way it should be.
I have to mention Gothic Rainbows! After reading the description of their music sets and the clubs they played in through the eyes of Zero, I wanted to go there and listen. Leveen includes lyrics and the crowd’s reactions to the band that will have you wishing the same. I personally feel they are a t-shirt wearing worthy band.
I truly loved this book because of Mike and Zero. I can literally play the ending in my head over and over again. I understand it and have made peace with it. Tom Leveen really allows you to ponder Zero in your mind after reading. Zero is a book about first love and how life doesn’t go according to plan. Sometimes the plan gets torn into pieces and you have to put together something different, but something way better.