Review & Giveaway: Double Negative by C. Lee McKenzie

"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't go into the slammer before that happened." Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped in a dysfunctional family. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

I wouldn't call Hutch a troubled boy, then rather say he's drowning. A drunk mom who doesn't want him, a dad who's always on the road and teachers who have no clue how to reach him. Hutch just knows that he wants out, but doesn't see the purpose of a high school diploma or doing his best. So far he's been cruising along by listening to the smart people around him and with the help of his friend Nyla.

When his friends and his home situation put him in trouble with the law, it seems his streak is over. Given a second and even third chance, Hutch needs to participate in an after school program to get him back on the right track. Not an easy for for a guy who just doesn't care. Still jail is not a place he wants to be, so he goes to the meetings.

It's almost strange for Hutch that he slowly gathers people around him that he can rely on and actually demand that he takes responsibility for his future. I really liked the fact that there was no epiphany moment for Hutch. Multiple bad things happen to and around him throughout the book, and it's a slow learning process for him.

The fact why he has trouble with school is almost ridiculous. It's something the average person takes for granted, and shows me how effed up reality can be. For the rest is Hutch a regular sixteen-year-old boy, who has no clue when it comes to women. Mostly though I liked how he actually deep down wanted to improve and did care. It just wasn't easy to get to that point.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and Hutch, a young character with real struggles. Romance certainly takes a backseat, but I didn't mind one bit. The focus on his personal struggles and the troubles around him, were almost refreshing. A story for when you need a break from lovey-dovey romance, with very loveable characters and great depth on all levels.


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The Author
In my other life--the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers--I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.

My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.

I've just set out my perfect life. Day after day after day.

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  1. Thanks so much for your carefully considered review. I'm writing against the current on this one: no steamy romance, no particularly attractive people and some characters well out of the youthful circle. :-)

  2. Great review, Athena! I love how real this sounds and not just fluff. I do like a good lovey dovey romance but I really enjoy the more gritty ones, too! Glad you liked it! :)