Reading books by Tom Leveen has been a favorite pastime for me in recent weeks. He has two of them out. One is called ‘Party’, the other is called ‘Zero’. This review is about the latter.
Zero is the nickname the protagonist of this book gave herself. Her given name is Amanda Walsh. She is a recent high school graduate, spending that unique time when part of your life has ended and another is about to begin, the summer between highschool and college in a state of self loathing and desperation.
Why is she desperate? Because the next step of her life has not materialized how she had planned it and circumstances of her present life are dragging her down. She is missing an all coveted scholarship, she has a problem with her best friend and her parents are locked in an unhealthy relationship.The scholarship would have been necessary to go to a prestigious art colleges, because Amanda is an artist.
She is so much an artist that the first time she sees the guy she is falling for, she doesn’t just admire him, she longs for her art supplies to paint him.
The guy’s name is Mike and he is a drummer in a Punk band. A relationship develops between the two of them. But he is not a knight in shining armor, he has his own issues to deal with. He is also not the answer to all of Amanda’s problems. Don’t worry, this is not a book like that. He is, however there to help Amanda deal with her problems by being there for her and giving her a new perspective.
Amanda learns several things in the course of that summer, one of them being that the world needs to see her as Amanda the artist and not as Zero the art student who hides away in the corner.
Tom Leveen wrote this book in first person, present tense style. He is neither a teenager, nor a girl himself, but his voice is fresh and strong and consistent. You will believe him the young girl. You will also see that teenagers are not an unknown entity to him, but a group of people he is familiar with.
His characters have integrity and dimension. Each of them is immersed in a social network and it is refreshing to see that parents are influencing and shaping the main characters, just like friends and love interests do. They play a role other than the proverbial extra, who is just there to ground the teen and never understands anything.
The two passions of the main characters, art and music play a major role in this book. They are described with such a love of detail, that you as a reader become immersed in them. I am not a painter by a long shot, but the book took me back in my mind to my visits of the Salvador Dali museum. And when it comes to music, Tom Leveen has a real gift. When he describes music, you can hear it.
I found this book to be a great read. It was intelligent, poignant and liberating. I wholeheartedly recommend it and I am looking forward to whatever else this author will come up with.