The Absolute Value of Mike

The Absolute Value of Mikeby Kathryn Erskine

245 pages to thoughtful calculations for intermediate and middle school wonderers

Dad’s an engineer.  His head is always in his work, noticing very little of what Mike does or who he really is.  Mike claims he has dyscalculia.  His father seems unaware and remains certain that he will get into Newton High if he completes a special project – building an artesian screw with his great uncle.  Dad is spending the summer in Romania and Mike is going to live with those unknown relatives, Poppy and Moo.

The great engineering project turns into a much larger and more complicated adventure.  The town, “Do Over” (the N has fallen off the sign) is working together to raise $40,000 in three weeks to support the adoption of Misha.  The town is committed to this goal, but unable to get it done.  That’s where the “true value” of Mike come into play.   Mike energizes, masterminds and organizes a massive campaign that brings the town to life.  He helps them realize that it will take everyone moving forward in the present to achieve a goal.

Mike overcomes incredible obstacles.  He determinedly moves through each challenge he encounters.  From porch pals to herb vinegar to songs and hand-crafted boxes, Mike organizes and orchestrates it all, in the end coming to understand that numbers are not the only things with value.

You will fall in love with the characters in this book.  There are some laugh-out-loud parts and some sobering serious parts too.  It is amazing how crazy real-life can be, especially when it takes everyone present to get something done.  This book makes you stop to wonder about possibilities.  Can the true value of a person ever be known?

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