"Nothing" by Janne Teller

Nothing just won a 2011 Printz Honor Award and will receive a silver seal on its book jacket from now on.. The winner of this year's Michael L. Printz Award was Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. The Printz Award is given to the year's best YA novel by the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association, one of the most prestigious awards for YA literature.

Nothing is both Danish author Janne Teller's first YA novel and her U.S. debut. It has won worldwide acclaim and several major awards since its release.

What, to you, is meaningful? What deems it so in your eyes? Would anyone else find the same meaning as you? Nothing is a book that explores meaning. It's dark and gritty, with an experiment taking place that quickly becomes very Lord of the Flies. The novel starts off with a seventh-grade boy deciding there is no meaning in life. He spends the day sitting in a tree instead of the classroom. This behavior becomes consistent, with the boy never attending class and his classmates growing more frustrated with him as he berates them from his tree each day. Why the teachers remain oblivious to this truancy, I don't know, but the children get sick of their classmate's behavior and decide to take action.

The class decides to find things that are meaningful and force their classmate to eat his words. First, they go door to door and collect meaningful items from various neighbors, but a lot of it is junk and doesn't have true mean. The kids then decide to part with what is most meaningful to them. It starts off innocently enough. The classmate whose point of view we're following if forced to give up her brand-new green sandals that she begged for all summer and finally got on sale. In a way, it's hard to pity her later on in the novel when she continues to think back on her sandals because some of her classmates are forced to give up things that are so much more meaningful and harder to part with. I won't spoil things for you, but some of these items and the way the child is forced to give them up will make you sick to your stomach as you read. Their quest quickly spirals out of control, with students turning against one another and banding together to physically make sure that everyone gives up something "meaningful."

This novel is very hard-hitting. It won't be for everyone. Nothing is something you can read with your book group and have an in-depth conversation over. It will make you think and question what is truly meaningful.