When Pierre-Anthon realizes there is no meaning to life, the seventh-grader leaves his classroom, climbs a tree, and stays there. His classmates cannot make him come down, not even by pelting him with rocks. So to prove to Pierre-Anthon that life has meaning, the children decide to give up things of importance. The pile starts with the superficial—a fishing rod, a new pair of shoes. But as the sacrifices become more extreme, the students grow increasingly desperate to get Pierre-Anthon down, to justify their belief in meaning. Sure to prompt intense thought and discussion, Nothing
—already a treasured work overseas—is not to be missed.
“Pierre Anthon left school the day he realized that nothing was worth doing, because nothing meant anything anyway,” opens Teller's haunting novel, a violent sequence of events sparked by a seventh-grader's decision to leave school and live in a plum tree. Pierre's fellow students are confused and then outraged by the boy's actions and taunting, and they decide to prove Pierre's philosophy wrong by creating a hidden pile of objects that demonstrate meaning in life. It starts out innocently enough, with shoes and boxing gloves, but anger surfaces. The frustration and fury the children feel, as they challenge each other to sacrifice increasingly “meaningful” things, is visceral and chilling. Soon the pile includes the severed head of a dog, the exhumed coffin of a child, and a desecrated statue of Jesus, among other gruesome objects. Sofie is forced to give up her “innocence”; Hussain gives up his faith; and Jan-Johan loses his index finger. Matters don't improve once the stash is discovered by the community either. A provocative and challenging parable about human instability. Ages 12–up. –Publishers Weekly (Feb.) STARRED REVIEW