Published by: Evernight Teen
Publication date: July 25th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
“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 between an abusive mother and an absentee father. 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’ve read a lot of novels about troubled kids and how they get lost in the foster care system or wind up in Juvie or behind actual bars. I squirmed at every other word when I read E.R. Frank’s harsh but blunt America. So it’s a real wonder that I’d pick up yet another young adult novel about a young boy who is served a plate of trouble and whose life is nothing but endless turmoil.
Somehow, Hutchinson McQueen in Double Negative is far different compared to the rest of characters in any other hard-hitting novel I’ve read so far. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t sound like any of the other characters from other novels but, instead, like a real person who was recounting his success story. I still held my breath at parts where it seemed as if Hutch was going to get hit with the book and make friends with the kids in Juvie but he always seemed to have someone by his side that would throw him a life vest.
To be honest, I truly believed that Hutch was going to end up in Juvie and the story would speak about the things he learnt and the people he made friends with but C. Lee McKenzie decided to take the story down a different path. Instead of a hot headed, don’t-take-shit-from-nobody and ignorant youth, readers were introduced to Hutch, a young boy who has the ability and interest to reach farther but no guidance to get him there. His parents are no help either; one’s an alcoholic who he often gets into verbal fights with and the other is one who is barely around to teach him how to be a proper man.
Thankfully, the big man in the sky is watching out for Hutch when he finds himself in front of a judge for hanging out with a guy who had a meth lab business and is saved by a priest who sees himself in Hutch. Father Kerry is a man who has a dark past and seems as if he’s still trying to come to terms with it. However, he decides that he won’t allow Hutch and a handful of other young boys to fall by the wayside just because society deems them to be delinquents. At this point I figured that Father Kerry was probably one of those priests who touched little boys (I’ve read a lot of stories about abused youths) but the author decided to make him a character who had the biggest impact on Hutch’s life – in a good way. Father Kerry taught Hutch and a couple other boys how to deal with their issues through a youth intervention programme that he runs. The way the programme changed them is typical but still realistic. Some of the boys ended up in Juvie or disappeared while Hutch and a couple others found themselves with their heads above the tide.
Even though Hutch is the protagonist of the story and it was easy to relate to him, I more adored Maggie. Maggie’s and Hutch’s first encounter with one another was purely accidental but I believe that sometimes life gives you lemons because it intends to send you someone who will show you how to make lemonade. Maggie was that person for Hutch. Regardless of the fact that she’s older than most of the characters put together, she’s still an amazing teacher for Hutch when he seems to be drowning in the sea of life. Thanks to Maggie, Hutch actually finds his footing and steers clear of imprisonment.
There are other characters in the story that will remind you of your time in high school (good and bad) and there are others that remind you of people in society who shouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to be born. Still, the way the author strings all of her characters and the plot together is truly amazing and realistic. I really enjoyed reading about Hutch and his trials, even if it was boring at times.
In all, Double Negative is a motivational story that anyone who is going through a rough patch in life or anyone who just wants to read a story they could relate to should read.
This blog tour was held by Xpresso Book Tours
Learn more about 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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