Oof, this book is messy and emotional. At it’s center The Minus-One Club is a story of grief and finding your way forward after the death of a loved one, but it is also a story of friendship and identity.
Kermit just lost his sister after a drunk driver hit her car head-on, and now he has to go back to school and try getting back to “normal.” But he finds an anonymous note in his locker inviting him to a secret meeting, where other classmates who’ve lost loved ones meet. But the most important rule of the club is they don’t talk about IT. At first this works and Kermit loves making new friends who get it, but as he gets closer to Matt and sees under his bright veneer, they start to learn there are some things you can’t keep bottled up all the time.
This book was hard to put down, but it was also a rough read on many fronts. Kermit and Matt don’t have the healthiest coping methods and there’s a lot of religious pressure on Kermit’s part about his sexuality and struggling with the idea of coming out. I appreciated that this is a story that really talks about how coming out isn’t as simple and clean cut as stepping out a door, but a constant process, and also talks about how you don’t have to come out to everyone to be valid – you’re safety is more important than any pressure to come out where it could make you unsafe. I especially liked how the story felt full-circle with the final chapter and seeing how much growth has occurred for these characters.
If you’re a fan of messy, grief-filled stories of teens surviving and growing, this may be perfect for you. Definitely be prepared for some rough topics and themes, but I felt like it was handled realistically and made efforts to challenge harmful ideas.