Author: Tom Leveen
Publisher: Random House
Age Group: Young Adult
Release date: April 24th, 2012
Pages: 298 (ARC)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Random Buzzers Ambuzzador Program
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.
If I hadn't been chosen to be an Ambuzzador for Random Buzzers, I'm not quite sure if I'd have heard of this book. That being said, I'm so thrilled that I got the chance to read it. More than anything else, Zero is a story of finding yourself, and it's inspired me to get more of what I truly want out of life. Even if you're not quite into contemporary books, I assure you that this is one book you'll want to try out.
The first thing I wanted to note was Leveen's seemingly effortless way of writing from a female's point of view. Some of my favorite books were written by male authors, but I've never read one with a female protagonist before. Amanda "Zero" Walsh was a very convincing character for me. She's just another normal teenage girl who has to work extra hard to make her dreams come true, which is quite admirable and realistic. Besides not being able to go to her dream college, her family is broken and she nearly loses her best friend. Of course, this is where- conveniently- Mike comes in.
When Zero works up the nerve to talk to the gorgeous-eyed drummer she saw on stage, it's like her life flips upside down. She's inspired, not only to paint, but to keep pushing forward. Plus, having to stay in Arizona can't be too bad now that she has him around. Honestly, Zero reminds me of myself when I was 17, mainly because she has low self-esteem, hangs out at concerts, and has a slight obsession with Salvador Dali. I loved it. Mike was also the type of guy you grow to love and you could tell from the start that he would treat Zero as if she's worth more than she believes.
Overall, the story was refreshing. The characters were lovable and they all seem to grow in front of your eyes the more you read. Even Zero's parents turned into the adults they were supposed to be. The book ended on such a good note and left me with a sense that the time I'd invested in reading the book was well worth it. If you want to find out where Zero, Mike, and even her parents end up in life, I suggest you pick up the book. Who knows, it may become a new favorite like it has for me!