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The Absolute Value of Mike Hardcover – June 9, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kathryn Erskine spent many years as a lawyer before realizing that she’d rather write things that people might actually enjoy reading. She grew up mostly overseas and attended eight different schools, her favorite being the Hogwarts-type castle in Scotland. The faculty, of course, did not consist of wizards, although . . . how did the headmistress know that it was “the wee redhead” who led the campaign to free the mice from the biology lab? Erskine draws on her childhood—and her second childhood through her children—for her stories. She still loves to travel but nowadays most trips tend to be local, such as basketball and tennis courts, occasional emergency room visits, and the natural food store for very healthy organic chocolate with “life saving” flavonoids.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (June 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399255052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399255052
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,383,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. B. Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my 12-year-old son on the strength of the great write-up in The New York Times Book Review. My son is only marginally interested in reading -- he'll give a book cover the once-over and then start in only if it meets his approval.

He took this book in the car with him to read while going to and from his baseball games and he finished up this week. When I asked him if he liked it, he said, "I hope it's going to be a series!" That's high praise coming from him, as he has always been attracted to series. (The Chronicles of Prydain and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are two of his favorites.)

Now that he's finished the book, I've started it. I'll post some thoughts when I'm done. I just wanted to put this 5-star review up now so Ms. Erskine can enjoy it!

P.S. I agree with my son! I enjoyed this book, a story of a young teen whose distracted, socially inept math-genius father sends him to live with his quirky, down-home great-aunt and uncle for the summer. Sure, all the characters you meet are eccentric -- Gladys, Moo, Poppy -- more so than you'd find in real life, and Mike has uncanny abilities beyond his years, but Ms. Erskine has imbued all her characters with heart and humor. You root for Mike all the way. And, yes, I would like to meet him in another book one day!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Kathryn Erskine is a great writer. I enjoyed her book Mockingbird and thus requested a review copy of The Absolute Value of Mike.

I think taking into account the target audience is important when judging a book. The main character in this book is 14 but I think this story is aimed more at middle grade & preteens. It felt like it would be a hit with 10-13 year olds, especially boys.

The Absolute Value of Mike is full of likable, quirky characters. It’s a feel good, coming of age story. It has a great message about being yourself and following you heart.

Rating: 4 Stars – Great Book

Content: There were a couple mild swear words and a few reference to sex/crude remarks that I wish would have been left out.

Source: ARC from Author
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Format: Hardcover
Kathryn Erskine follows up her National Book Award winning novel MOCKINGBIRD with another remarkable gem. Mike is a young guy trying hard to find out what he's worth--trying to see himself for who he really is rather than who he's expected to be by his father and even by the culture around him. Instead, Mike learns to see his own strengths and abilities as they are needed, when they're touched and awakened by a beautifully authentic supporting cast of characters. Erskine hits a home run--no, a grand slam--with this page turner, which is guaranteed to both hook readers and also show them some deep truths about the real value of Mike, yes, but also of ourselves. Simply put: moving, hilarious, and authentic. I am about to start it for the second time!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was pretty good.I really got into it but,the end definitely let me down . This book is very inspiring to me,and being twelve years old,it has made me very confident .it has made me realise what any one of any age is capable of doing .I would give this book 4 1/2 stars but the book rating thing doesn't do halfs so...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Absolute Value of Mike is a coming of age story with some very funny quirky characters that drive 14 year old protagonist, Mike, nuts. They also teach him what true friendship is, what family is and what community is. Mike is an "every-teen". He is not academically strong, but he likes to learn and is popular. His Dad is a math genius. Mike and his Dad have never really connected. Mike feels it is because his Dad is disappointed that Mike "does not stand out" . When Mike's Dad sends him to rural PA to spend the summer with elderly relatives he has never met, Mike thinks his Dad just wants him out of the way. Mike's time in the poor backward town of Do Over provides him with the opportunity to become a hero to the town, himself and his Dad. Students will relate to Mike and love Mike's eccentric new friends. Its short length and quick pace make Absolute Value of Mike a great choice for reluctant readers.
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Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book at the library, I was drawn directly to it. Why? For one thing, my post on dyscalculia and teaching math is one of my most popular posts ever. For another, I am always seeking good children's books with mathematics themes to enhance my teaching or recommend to students. Finally, given that the theme of dyscalculia is such a hot topic, I thought I might be able to learn more about it, as I have done with books about people on the autistic spectrum, such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

So it was with great eagerness that I devoured this book. And it is with mixed feelings that I write this review. Therefore, I thought it would be best to write it in two parts, the first about its literary value, and the second about its value in understanding what dyscalculia means.

Part 1: Literary Value

This book has a lot going for it. For one thing, the characters are all unique and unconventional. While some other reviewers have criticized them as being too strange, I liked them because such people do exist, and reading about characters like these portrayed in positive ways can help promote tolerance and understanding.

Another strength is the plot, which compelled me to keep reading. I found it gripping, moving, and believable in its own world. It was also well written, which is only to be expected from a National Book Award winner. I enjoyed the story tremendously.

However...

Part 2: Representation of Dyscalculia

First of all, a disclaimer: I am not an expert in dyscalculia.
Read more ›
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