Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

A Review of Nix Minus One by Jill Maclean

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Nix Minus One by Jill Maclean, published by Pajama Press

I bought Nix Minus One by Jill Maclean, published by Pajama Press, on a whim. I’d heard a good review of it on the CBC children’s book panel right before summer started and thought it would be a great read. Then I opened it. It was poetry. That was the end of the book for me. I don’t read poetry. I don’t get most of it. So I shut the book. A month passed and I was bored. I needed something to read so I thought I might give it a try. I mean, why not. If nothing else I could use it as a pillow while I lounged in the back yard.

Nix Minus One blew me away. Not only was I able to understand the poetry (almost a first for me), I loved the characters. From Nix to Roxy to the girl named Blue – no character was flat and typical. The story was multi-leveled and made me care about all aspects of it. I was hooked after the first two chapters or, umm… poems. Every surprise in the book was a surprise – which almost never happens. I can usually predict most plots (a downfall of being a writer). Not this time. I loved how Nix actually likes his sister even though she’s difficult. How he makes friends with a dog who is as beaten as Nix. The bad stuff is really bad in this novel and the good stuff made me feel all glowy (it’s a word isn’t it?).

So if you can get past the fact that it’s poetry and not slam the cover shut like I first did, Nix Minus One will be worth the read, just have a box of tissues handy for the sad parts. Jill Maclean knows how to twist her readers with some pretty raw emotions. If I could, I’d put this book in the hands of every teenager I met. Buy this book for your favorite teen for Christmas. Trust me, it’s way better than the underwear and socks you’re thinking about getting them.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kim Firmston

Kim Firmston is a writer and creative writing instructor in Calgary. Her teen novels Schizo and Hook Up were Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Bet Selections. Her short story "Life Before War" was shortlisted for the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. Her most recent novel for teens is Touch, about a teenage hacker with a troubled family life.

Go to Kim Firmston’s Author Page