Cover Image: The Minus-One Club

The Minus-One Club

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I wanted to love this—I had very high hopes. I think it tried to do too much to a topic that is very saturated in YA right now by others with major followings. I would love to see more from this author as I thought the writing was excellent, but the story just didn’t land for me.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

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You don't want an invitation to the minus-one club. It means someone you loved has died and now you are left to pick up the pieces and continue on. Kermit joins the club after losing his sister in a tragic car accident. Can the group help each other survive, heal and move on? Or are they so stuck in their own sorrow that they can't see when the people in front of them are falling apart in dangerous ways? This is a beautiful book of healing, hope, and seeing the light in the world when everything seems too hard.

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The Minus-One Club by Kekla Magoon was the first book I read in June, and my first Pride read. Kermit has just lost his sister from a car accident and he’s not sure how to function without her. Then he’s invited to a secret club called The Minus-One Club where everyone has lost someone close to them. They meet when they need each other, but they can’t talk about who they’ve lost. Through here, Kermit gets closer to his crush, Matt, and the two even start a secret relationship since Kermit isn’t out. I really liked this book. I thought it handled sexuality, grief, religion, and teens really well. It’s a quick read, but it might make you cry! I know I did in the end.

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This book was a heartbreaker from the start to finish, but it was beautiful in many ways.

Kermit has recently lost his sister in a car accident and is overcome with grief. He receives a mysterious note in his locker to come to a meeting of the Minus-One Club, a seemingly random group of students at his school who are connected by the fact that each of them has lost a family member. Kermit's secret crush, Matt, the only out gay student at their school, is part of the club, and they become close. The group starts to help Kermit, but also gives him the proximity to see how much Matt is hurting and not processing his grief.

I loved the honesty in the relationship between Kermit and Matt, to the degree that Matt can be honest with himself. I really appreciated the significant discourse about religion in Kermit's life and how his long-held beliefs start to present a conflict to his sexual identity. The larger conversation about grief that presents one of the major themes of the book is so important, and the inclusion of the Plus-One Club allows for Magoon to show the many sides and manifestations of loss. The only real downside of this book is that it is so incredibly sad, though there is a hopeful tone to the ending that lifts it up slightly just before it is over.

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TW: car accident/drunk driving, religion, underage drinking, alcoholism/alcohol abuse, attempted/mention of suicide, bullying/homophobia (?), and potential sexual harassment (the bully mentioned sticking his finger up Matt’s butt)

“Grief, depression, suicide or suicide ideation, alcohol abuse, and mental health. In addition to broader explorations of identity, attraction, sexuality, faith and acceptance.” (Taken from the book/author)

While his family tries to adjust to the sudden, tragic loss of his sister, The Minus-One Club, a secret support group at Kermit's school helps as best they can, even if their “don’t talk about it” rule causes more harm than good. But while participating in the group’s activities, Kerm gets closer to Matt, the only openly gay kid at their school, all while Kerm struggles with keeping his sexuality away from his family as well as with ways to tell them he’s gay.

This book holds no punches. It reveals an ugly yet realistic side to being a part of LGBTQ+ community. While sweet queer romances are a joy to read, they only show one side to the struggle. This is not your run of the mill LGBTQ book. To the reader, this book does not have a happy ending, but for Kerm, it’s about as happy as it could be. I think this book would be perfect for anyone who questions the validity of their sexual identity for not being out. As well as those who may be in a similar position to Kerm and feel that they can’t reveal that part of themselves to their family.

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Very much enjoyed this book. I'd rate it closer to 4.5 stars. Super readable and relatable. Perhaps one or two false, or false-ish notes, but nothing too outrageous. I was definitely engaged from the first page(s), and would recommend this book to a wide variety of readers. Some things DON'T get resolved, neatly or otherwise, which I especially liked, appreciated, and found believable.

Many thanks to #NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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I like the absence of perfection in this book. No one comes out of this narrative happy and fulfilled. They are just finding a way forward. And sometimes that way forward is the wrong one. Sometimes what looks like help in enabling. There actually isn't a whole lot to this plot. A lot of detail about what these kids do in a Breakfast Club sort of way but not much in the way of true development.

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This was an amazing book.
I love the title.
There was a group like this in our school district at the various grade levels. That is where the comparison stopped. Ours had counselors leading the group with all sorts of support available.
I really liked this premise. The teens were doing the best they could under the circumstances. I loved how the author mixed in romance and love in the story as well as self destructive behavior.
I appreciate the author taking on an extremely difficult topic and not downplaying it or simplifying it. Everyone deals with grief differently and that is where professional help is important. As well as friend and family support.

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After receiving a mysterious note in his high school locker , Kermit meets the members of the Minus-One Club, a group of teenagers who lost someone, just like him. Meeting them helps the young man dealing with tragedy, as things are suffocating at home, because of overprotective parents. Kermit meets Matt, and the friendship turns into love.

The Minus-One Club is a moving and emotional young adult novel. Fifteen-year-old Kermit Sanders is deeply wounded by grief after losing his big sister in a tragic car accident. The Minus-One Club is the story of a transformation, as Kermit loses his last drops of childhood innocence. Emotional, mental and spiritual changes are rooted deeply in Kermit’s story.

Kekla Magoon wrote a powerful novel, raising strong and difficult topics. Death, grief, alcoholism, suicide, fear of rejection. Kermit’s homosexuality discovery is at the heart of the novel. His relationship with Matt is sweet, but also ingrained in fear. Kermit’s family is really religious, and the teenager knows he will never be accepted for who he really is.

The Minus-One Club is a good novel. You jump easily from smile to tears. I loved the evolution of the story, and how all the characters evolved. Even if Kermit is the main character, the secondary cast also plays an active part in the story. They all grow and learn from their shared experience.

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Loved this one. Heartbreaking but hopeful in unexpected ways. There are infinite ways to experience grief, and this wonderfully encapsulates that.

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Let me get this out up front. Kekla Magoon can do no wrong in my eyes. She is able to take very difficult topics and make them more understandable. The Minus-One Club is another winner in her catalog.

Kermit returns to school a week after his sister died in a car accident and there is a note in his locker inviting him to the secret and anonymous minus-one club. This is a club no one wants to join. The only requirement for membership is that you have lost someone close to you. The only rule in the minus-one club is that you don't talk about the reason you're there and you keep quiet about the club.

Kermit's crush, Matt, is also in the club, having lost his mother to cancer. Matt is the only openly gay person in school, while Kermit has not come out to his parents (or school friends). Matt also has a drinking problem.

This book covers a lot. Loss, addiction, sexuality, religion (Kermit's family is very active in the church) - you'll find all of it in Ms. Magoon's latest book. It's good to see some of the many different ways people grieve - there's no "right way" - and that life goes on, even if it's bumpy.

My thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an hones review.

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I don't know how I feel about this book. There were aspects of this book that I appreciated. Kermit's grief and his experience trying to come to terms with his loss felt realistic. Also, Kermit's struggle with his faith will be relatable for many readers. The fact that some of the storylines lack resolution will resonate with some readers. However, I didn't connect with the characters. I finished this book a few days ago and don't remember most of the characters. The mechanics of the book are well done, but it didn't make a lasting impression.

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“I trace the line of a crack in the baseboard to avoid having to look (for the millionth time) at her penguin cartoon, her BEHOLD, MY MESS, sign, the taped-up fortune cookie messages she favored. Before, these decorative things were so familiar as to be invisible. Now, they glare at me like oncoming headlights.”

Fifteen-year-old Kermit Sanders is grieving his older sister, Sheila, who was killed by a drunk driver. On his first day back to school after the accident, he receives an anonymous invitation to meet in a storage room after school. When he shows up, he’s greeted by fellow classmates who call themselves the “Minus-One Club.” They have all experienced the loss of a loved one, and they band together to help each other through the never-ending feeling of grief. Kermit’s long-time crush, Matt, is also a member of the club. In the months following Sheila’s death, as Kermit becomes a member of the club and grows closer to Matt, Kermit begins to learn that even in the darkest of times, it is possible to experience moments of joy.

From topics of grief, sexuality, religious guilt, alcohol dependency, and suicidal ideation, The Minus-One Club tackles many components at once. The novel puts readers directly into Kermit’s head as he tries to cope with Sheila’s death while falling in love with a boy. Magoon portrays the relationship between Matt and Kermit in a really realistic way. It isn’t something magical that completely pulls Kermit out of grief. It’s a relationship between two teenage boys who are both experiencing loss while finding moments of solace with each other.

I lost my brother this past year, and I felt very seen by Kermit and the entire “Minus-One Club.” Each character in the novel is flawed, but they’re all doing the best they can. Magoon’s descriptions of what it feels like to lose a loved one are spot on. At many points during the novel, I cried. I would recommend this novel to anyone who has lost a loved one and wants to feel slightly less alone. Even if you don’t have a “Minus-One Club” in your own life, books as well-written and empathetic as this one can help, even if it’s just a little bit.

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.)

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The Minus One Club begins about a club uniting grieving students. These feelings of loss that hollow us out. These moments where they're there for each other, where they just understand each other without speaking, it forms the basis of The Minus One Club.All these memories of the past and their continual process of grief was heartbreaking. But as a whole, this book is about Kermit. About the pain he feels, but also the queer questioning, struggling with his relationship to religion, and also crushes.

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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.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Review will post to my blog on 1/20/23.

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The Minus-One Club is a young adult novel about Kermit, a closeted gay biracial teen who has just lost his sister. The Club in question is a secret group organized by students who have lost loved ones, and Kermit is their newest member - which is where he connects with his crush Matt, an out gay kid who lost his mom.

There is a lot of nuance and a lot of emotions in this novel, and Magoon does a fantastic job of navigating the teen experience around loss, friendship, and hope. Kermit's struggles with religion, especially regarding his sexuality, are ones that resonated with me and are shown in a way that feels genuine. This is a book that really gets to the heart of the complex emotions surrounding big issues that teens face, and it knocks it out of the park for the most part.

My issues with the novel are rather nit-picky. As someone who was raised Baptist, there are some errors with regard to that theology - there is no confirmation for Baptists, and it's pretty rare for advent to be celebrated in a church context in my experience - but these are minor and likely won't be noticeable unless you were raised in the religion or converted.

Overall, this is a fantastic novel that digs deep on topics that teens may be struggling with. As a result, there are some content warnings for suicide, loss of family members, and homophobia. This could be a very important book for a queer kid who can relate to Kermit, and in that way I highly recommend it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt and Co. for providing a copy for review.

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After his older sister is killed in a car accident, Kermit is trying to find out how to deal with his grief when he is befriended by a group of students at his school who have also lost a close family member. Adding to his grief is his knowledge that he is gay but is unsure of how his parents would deal with it because of their religious beliefs. Magoon does an excellent job of showing how complicated grief can be and how it changes a myriad of relationships. I recommend this book for high school students (and mature 8th graders.)

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This book packs a punch. Reeling from the death of his sister in a tragic car crash, Kermit is invited to join a secret club at school for those that have lost a family member. Dubbed the minus one club, this group meets to play cards, talk all night and do everything except talk about "it". As Kermit grows closer to the outgoing, always positive Matt, he struggles with what to do with his attraction to him. He doesn't know if his family will support his coming out. As his relationship with Matt grows deeper he begins to see that under all that positivity there is something darker lurking. The book does a great job of showing the different ways that people handle grief. It is raw and emotional and powerful. Highly recommended.

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After losing his older sister in a car accident, Kermit is no stranger to grief. It seems that everywhere he looks, there's a reminder of her. A reminder that she's no longer there to give him advice, to support him. When Kermit goes back to school, he finds a mysterious note in his locker inviting him to the Minus-One Club. A club where all of the members have lost someone. A club where everyone gets grief.

One member of the club is Matt, the only out gay kid at school and someone who Kermit might have a crush on. Spending time with Matt seems to be one of the only things that helps Kermit with his grief. But as Kermit spends more time with Matt, he realizes how much pain Matt is actually hiding. And Kermit has to find the strenght to help keep Matt from falling apart.

Thanks to Henry Holt & Co. for an advanced copy of this book to review! Kekla Magoon is such a force in YA and kids literature that I knew I had to read her new book. This book definitely packs a punch; it doesn't flinch away from the difficult sides of grief, of religion, and of mental illness. There may be a lot to unpack in this book, but it doesn't feel overwhelming like it sometimes can.

This book is sort of fomatted like a series of vingettes in a way, as the chapters are very, very short. We get both present day and flashbacks of when Kermit's sister was alive. Throughout, we get to see Kermit struggling with his sexuality, especially because his parents are very religious. Kermit isn't sure how to feel about his feelings for Matt, and as readers, we can see this confusion playing out on the page. It's honestly wonderfully done.

The sections with Matt and Kermit are some of the best but also some of the most heart-wrenching. You can see how much Matt is struggling, with a non-existent support structure at home. Kermit does his best to be there for him, but they're also both teenagers. There's only so much he can actually do.

I also loved the concept of the Minus-One Club, inducting members who experience loss so they can realize that they aren't alone. The group evolves by the end of the book (by necessity), and I wish more high schools were able to have groups like this because it's so important to see that you're not alone when you're going through something traumatic like that.

The only thing I would change about this book is to add a little more resolution at the end. With the major event that happens towards the end of the book, I think the characters needed a little more room to breath. But other than that, this is a powerful book that you should have on your January TBRs!

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