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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nothing, a novel for teens by Annie Barrows, author of the popular children's series Ivy + Bean, tells the story of two California suburban high school girlfriends, Frankie and Charlotte, who think nothing ever happens in their lives. That's until Charlotte decides to write a novel that chronicles all the everyday ups and downs of sophomore year. Strong language is frequent and includes "f--k" and "s--t." High school sophomores occasionally drink and usually smoke marijuana on weekends. Frankie and Charlotte have a few mild kisses with guys, and teens talk and speculate about sex a lot. At a party, Charlotte interferes in a situation between a friend who's too drunk to stand up and a guy who's determined to have sex at the party, preventing a nonconsensual act from occurring. There's some brief talk about being gay and not being gay, and a teen reads aloud about a brief same-sex encounter.
What's the story?
High school sophomore Charlotte wants to write a book about how NOTHING ever happens in her and best friend Frankie's regular, everyday suburban lives. Not yet old enough to drive, and also not yet burdened with having to figure out what to do after high school, they're bursting with impatience for something, anything, to happen. And they're both fed up with young adult books that aren't realistic and rehash the same old themes time and again. So Charlotte starts documenting all the little things that happen over the course of a day, a month, a school year. It doesn't take long for her to see that these things add up to more than nothing.
Is it any good?
This YA debut from veteran kids' book author Annie Barrows takes an irreverent, funny look at teens impatient for their lives to go somewhere and to do something, anything. Particularly satisfying in Nothing are Charlotte and Frankie's snappy dialogue and Charlotte's believable, relatable, diary-like documentation of sophomore year. The story may be full of the everyday, but for 15-year-olds, that includes a heaping serving of teen drama with a dash of angst on the side. These girls live easy lives free from financial worry or any kind of hardship, and from some perspectives that in itself may seem as unrealistic as they find the rest of YA literature. But the girls are engaging characters, and teens will enjoy watching their friendship unfold.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the friendship of Charlotte and Frankie. What makes it work? Is it realistic? How long do you think it will last? Why?
Is the strong language in Nothing realistic? Is it OK in books, movies, and TV aimed at teens?
What would a realistic book about your life be like? Would it be like this one? Would anything happen?
- Author: Annie Barrows
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: September 5, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.