Spotlight Wednesday: The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff (with bonus giveaway)!

The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero. So what's the absolute value of a friendship? Of love? Just how far apart are we, anyway?

Noah, Lily, and Simon have been a trio forever. But as they enter high school, their relationships shift and their world starts to fall apart. Privately, each is dealing with a family crisis divorce, abuse, and a parent's illness. Yet, as they try to escape the pain and reach out for the connections they once counted on, they slip like soap in a shower. Noah's got it bad for Lily, but he knows too well that Lily sees only Simon. Simon is indifferent, suddenly inscrutable to friends. All stand alone in their heartache and grief.
I'm so excited to be spotlighting [-1] here today! Steve Brezenoff and I go way back to my very first job in publishing, working on many a media tie-in and even, once, collaborating on the same. Steve's been working on chapter books (written under a pen name) for a few years now, but when it came time for his YA debut, he went full-on contemp. Naturally, I wanted to know why.
Here's what he had to say: 
Micol asked me to explain why, since I come from a background of paranormal, I decided to launch my novel-writing career with a contemporary, realistic, edgy cuss-fest like |-1|. The simply answer is that I didn't decide to. In fact, the first novel I completed was a middle-grade fantasy! So was the second. The next three I started, and outlined, and wrote tens of thousands of words on were speculative fiction, top to bottom. But they were never good enough even for me, never mind the rest of the world. Something wasn't clicking.

Meanwhile, there was this story I'd written, and expanded, and revised, and expanded some more, since I was still in college. It was clicking. And I kept going back to it over the years, even though I didn't want to write it. Confusing, I know. But when the time came to submit my work to an open-minded editor, it was that book that was farthest along, and that book that had the strongest voice, so I sent it. Obviously, that book was
The Absolute Value of -1.

Will I ever finish all those middle-grade fantasies? Who knows. That trilogy had some cool stuff in it. But I'm feeling super dedicated to young adult, and to realistic fiction, so it might be a while.
Who knew? (Well, actually, I kinda could have guessed that Steve had some fantasy tucked in a drawer somewhere.) First of all, I love the term "cuss-fest," and am definitely going to work that into conversation sometime this week. But more than that, what I think Steve is saying is what we Contemps have been going on about all along: sometimes, realistic fiction is what gives our authorial voice the most confidence and authenticity. We have to keep it real to tell it like it is. 
Check out the awesome [-1] trailer: 

But it's not just any old Spotlight Wednesday here at The Contemps - because Steve is made of awesome, and because his trailer and guest post have obviously made you want to IMMEDIATELY run right out and read his book - he's giving one away! 

That's right, people - post a comment here, letting us know what YOUR favorite YA contemp friendship story is, and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of [-1].  You lucky ducks!

Thanks so much for coming by, Steve, and good luck, commenters! The giveaway will be open through the end of the week (Friday, 12/3). 


Pam Harris said...

Yes! I don't need to win a copy bc I already own and LOVE this book! I'm just really excited that you're spotlighting it. This novel is already one of my faves. :)

Micol Ostow said...

That's what we like to hear!

Blythe Woolston said...

I'm a member of the-already-have-its. So I'm pretty much in awe of Steve. Drop the qualifiers: I'm in awe. More people need to read this book.

Christi said...

I have Absolute Value on my nook, but would love to win a copy I could share with my teens!

My favorite friendship contemp has to be Twenty Boy Summer. It shows, to the nth degree, the highs and lows of friendship, I think.

Micol Ostow said...

Ooh, Sarah Ockler - a fellow Contemp! Good call. And yay for all of you early Steve B. adopters! :)

Grace said...

I ahven't heard of this book but it looks like it could be really awesome. <3
My favorite novel about friendship would have to be Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Yeah, it's also about rebellion, but Tally leans the value of true friends when she's out in the wild. :]

Grace said...

oh, I forgot, my email, it's
peachandblue2 [at] aol [dot] com
this looks like an awesome book, hope I win. :D

Christi said...

I forgot my email too!

Terra Mae said...

WOW this sounds amazing!

My fav would have to be Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark from Catching Fire. They both showed what friendship is truley about. Saving eachother from death and extremely loyal. Quite an amazing friendship when you can trust someone with your life.


Ammy Belle said...

Hm .... friendship ... I think I liked the friendships in Nick and Nora'sInfinite Playlist - the way that they are interacted, I think it showed a lot of reality in a genre that is often sugar coated or brought down.

Also, thanks for hilighting the book - I have heard of it, but due to exams, have not yet gone to pick up a copy ...

Please enter me! :)

apereiraorama @

nova ren suma said...

No need to enter me -- I'm ordering this book! It just sounds amazing. And I love knowing how Steve found his way to contemporary YA. I just wanted to say congrats, Steve!

I think my favorite contemporary YA friendship story has to be SOME GIRLS ARE... who said the friendship had to be a good one, right?

Ashley said...

I'm awful about picking 'favorites' but the book that immediately comes to mind is Where the Red Fern Grows. I'm not really much of an animal person, and even I get what a big deal those dogs are. That is the book that taught me what it really means to read.

This book looks great! I'd love to read it!

basicallyamazingbooks [at]

Mystery Robin said...

My favorite contemp = Cracked Up To Be. :)

Micol Ostow said...

Good pick, Nova! We're talking SOME GIRLS over at rgz this week.

I should have been more clear about the book being non-paranormal, etc., this being a contemp blog! But we'll let it slide 'cause I just love seeing readers get so excited about books.

Edna said...

Love that trailer!

I really enjoyed the friendships in Tara Kelly's Harmonic Feedback. I can't say enough how much I loved that book.

jpetroroy said...

I'd have to go with Anna and the French Kiss. Anna and Etienne.

jpetroroy at gmail dot com

Sarah Laurence said...

I love the title of this book. I hope Brezenoff explores imaginary numbers as well as absolute value.

One of my favorite contemp YAs on friendship was Not that Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian. Two girls with very different views on feminism help each other out.

You can email me via my website:

Micol Ostow said...

Ooh, I was just talking about ANNA with a publishing friend last night! Dying to get my hands on it.

~The Book Pixie said...

I'm going to have to say Heart with Joy by Steve Cushman. :D

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!


Cass (Words on Paper) said...

Thanks for the contest! I've recently read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and loved it so, so much. :)

cc932005 at hotmail dot com

EVA SB said...

I think my favourite is Twenty Boy Summer though choosing is realy hard

April Henry said...

I've been interested in this book since I first heard about it.

Claire Dawn said...

It's a tie. Some Girls Are and Thirteen Reasons Why.

That trailer is amazing. I already love Noah!

Truth Be Told Blog said...

I have been wanting to read this book for a while. LOVE the cover.

I can't say I have a favorite Contemp. I really haven't read enough of them to know. :)

truthbetold004 at gmail dot com

Micol Ostow said...

Thanks to all who entered the contest! This book is a hot ticket to be sure!

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

Vagina Terasa Sakit Saat Bercinta Gejala Kanker Rahim
Manfaat Yang Ada Di Dalam Kayu Manis Bagi Kesehatan
Cara Mengobati Tumor Bibir Secara Alami
Bahaya Terlalu Banyak Mengkonsumsi Teh Hijau
Posisi Bercinta Yang Ideal Untuk Wanita Berbadan Gemuk
Rumah Sakit Pertama Di Indonesia Menangani Saraf Dan Otak
Waspada Sakit Pinggang Gejala Kencing Batu
Obat Pendarahan Rahim
Obat Untuk Menghilangkan Kesemutan Pada Jari Tangan
Cara Menghilangkan Penyakit Kuning Pada Anak Secara Alami

Post a Comment