D. Donovan at the Midwest Book Review just reviewed Less Than Nothing, and I couldn’t be happier. This is a prestigious group that knows good from bad, and, well, the review speaks for itself. I’m reprinting it in its entirety below. Feel free to share or tweet. Tell me this isn’t as good as it gets!
Coming-of-age romance novels are nothing new: stories of evolving love and maturity ever proliferate against different backdrops, with dissimilar protagonists fueling change.
What sets Less Than Nothing apart from the crowd are several added facets not typical in your usual love story. For one thing, the main protagonist, Sage, is homeless; a teenage runaway living in the streets of San Francisco.
Her street savvy, quickly honed from survival instincts, includes just enough skills to evade cops and predators and make money to feed herself; but when she meets a fellow musician (Derek), her carefully polished abilities must expand to meet the unexpected challenge of including a relationship.
Less Than Nothing is about this expansion process and charts the course of two already-independent teens who have more starry eyes than street savvy, and who handle their unexpected relationship with caution. The only reliable force in her life prior to Derek has been her Yamaha guitar (“…it’s the one thing in my life that’s a constant, and now that I’m homeless, it’s doing double duty supporting me…”): now it’s time for Sage to accept something into her life and heart that’s not inanimate – and trust that it will support her equally well.
How trust develops, how love evolves from that, and how two people living on the streets wind up pursing a dream bigger than each of them makes for a winding series of connections and interconnections that bind the two disparate characters together and capture reader interest.
Mature teens to adults will find the story holds believable dialogue, themes of major changes and transitions between teens just beginning to realize possibilities in their lives, and a progressive discussion that is involving and tense.
A coast-to-coast journey undertaken by ambitious teens who have little but one another, their dreams, and musical connections adds spice and a sense of adventure and discovery. As with many young adult novels, adults rarely factor into the interactions and events presented – until Derek makes a deal-killing mistake that causes Sage to question their goals and more closely refine her own, separate dreams.
Less Than Nothing is a road trip undertaken on the power of dreams and the certainty of youth in meeting the seemingly-impossible head-on. It’s about a spunky girl who has her own well-developed psyche and who wants more than immersion in another’s dreams – and it’s about how two ambitions weave together in this milieu to create something better than either alone could have achieved.
While young adults will be the likely audience for Less Than Nothing, let’s not omit the adult reader who enjoys romances spiced with stories of personal transformation. It doesn’t get much more realistic or optimistic than this story of how two lives collide, move apart, and then consider the pros and cons of coming back together, but in a whole new way.