by Tom Leveen
(Random House, $16.99, PG-13) 978-0-375-86921-1
Amanda Walsh has just graduated high school. Her dream since middle school has been to go to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was accepted to the school, but her work was not strong enough to get a scholarship, so she's currently home and not sure what to do with her life.

Totally depressed, Amanda, who picked up the nickname Zero in middle school, heads out to see a band at a local punk club. She has not heard them play before, but their name, Gothic Rainbow, is intriguing. Zero instantly likes the music and likes the drummer even better. Totally out of character, Zero musters up the courage to talk to the drummer after the show.

To Zero's surprise, Mike (the drummer) calls her the next day to meet for coffee. Even though her future career path is unknown, her path with Mike is looking positive. Mike becomes the perfect boyfriend. He is positive and helpful with Zero's self-confidence and even encourages her to take some local art classes to help develop her technique to try again with the school in Chicago. And with the trouble between her parents, Zero can use the positive influence in her life. And it seems she has the same affect on Mike and his band as they try to hit it big.

I don't often read young adult books, but I've enjoyed them in the past and decided to read Zero by Tom Leveen. It's written in first person from Zero's point of view, which is common for young adult novels. I enjoy that aspect because the reader is given the opportunity to really get inside the head of the main character. Leveen does a good job of expressing a young girl's point of view.

Zero is a bit annoying in the beginning, but as the story progresses she grows and starts to be more self aware of her role in the issues she is dealing with. It leads to hard decisions she has to make, which are probably very common for today's teenagers.

Older teens may enjoy Zero.

--Nichole Howell

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