The Minus One Club
Published January 17, 2023
About The Minus One Club
From the Coretta Scott King and Printz Honor-winning author of HOW IT WENT DOWN, LIGHT IT UP, and REVOLUTION IN OUR TIME comes a moving contemporary YA novel about the bonds between a group of teens whose lives have been upended by tragedy.
Fifteen-year-old Kermit Sanders knows grief and its all-encompassing shadows. After losing his beloved older sister in a tragic car accident, nothing quite punctures through the feelings of loss. Everywhere Kermit goes, he is reminded of her.
But then Kermit finds a mysterious invitation in his locker, signed anonymously with “-1.” He has no idea what he’s in for, but he shows up to find out. Dubbed the “Minus-One Club,” a group of his schoolmates has banded together as a form of moral support. The members have just one thing in common—they have all suffered the tragic loss of someone they loved.
The usual dividing lines between high school classes and cliques don’t apply inside the Minus-One Club, and Kermit’s secret crush, the handsome and happy-go-lucky Matt (and only out gay student at school), is also a part of the group. Slowly, Matt’s positive headstrong approach to life helps relieve Kermit of his constant despair.
But as Kermit grows closer to Matt, the light of his new life begins to show the cracks beneath the surface. When Matt puts himself in danger by avoiding his feelings, Kermit must find the strength to not only lift himself back up but to help the rest of the group from falling apart.
“This evocative exploration of grief, sexual identity, and personal spirituality will be a boon to any teen grappling with these issues.” –Horn Book
It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything by Kekla Magoon (I reviewed REIGN OF OUTLAWS in 2017), so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I love stories about grief and self-discovery, especially characters wrestling with their faith, and this one ticks all those boxes for sure.
The characterization in this book felt totally spot on to me. Each character had a distinct voice, and specific connections and relationships with Kermit. I especially loved his relationship with his sister, who we meet in memories, dreams, and through her voice in Kermit’s head.
I also loved Matt, though he scared me with his drinking and some other things. He’s absolutely charming. It was easy to believe everything he said and just immediately adore him.
THE MINUS ONE CLUB is a complex story about grief, which is exactly what I expected from the title and book summary. The club didn’t feature in the book as much as I thought it might. The story really centers on Kermit and Matt and their relationship and how each of them are processing their grief.
All in all, I truly enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t put it down. The chapters are really short, and the story seems to move quickly, so I read this one in a single sitting. It only took a couple of hours, too. I definitely recommend the book to readers who like stories about processing grief or about identity and first love.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Kermit and his sister are biracial. Kermit and another character are gay.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly infrequently. Kermit and Matt play a game where everything they say has double meanings.
Several scenes contain homophobic statements, especially from Kermit’s Baptist church and even from his parents.
At a party, boys encourage Kermit’s best friend to get his girlfriend drunk so that she will be more willing to have sex. He finds this appalling.
Kissing between two boys. References to sexual touching.
Kermit remembers his dad talking to him about sex and how to use a condom, even though he expects Kermit to practice abstinence. His dad says some misogynistic and toxic ideas about sex, which Kermit’s sister calls out as such.
Brief description of sexual harassment.
Kermit used to be deeply committed to his faith. After his sister’s death, and as he comes to terms with his identity, his faith falters. Another boy encourages him to visit a different church where his identity would be accepted.
Brief description of sexual harassment in a locker room at school. Kermit also witnesses what he thinks could be bullying.
One character talks about committing suicide.
Kermit doesn’t drink alcohol, partly because of his faith and partly because his sister was killed by a drunk driver. His friends do drink, though. One friend uses alcohol to cope with grief. One abuses prescription medicine in one scene.
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