From time to time I come across an interesting book that I would not normally read. LESS THAN NOTHING is a coming-of-age YA/NA story about two homeless teenagers facing up to tough times living on the street. Their main connection is that they are talented musicians and singers, surviving by singing for hours on the streets for loose change of passers by.
Sage left the home of her alcoholic mother a few months ago, driven out by the violence of her mother's new husband. Derek has been on the streets longer and has a dark past that he is reluctant to share with anyone. Both of them meet in San Francisco when Derek appears to want to take over Sage's street spot where she sings each day, but reluctantly she agrees to share the spot as their duo makes far more money together.
While Sage lives day to day, Derek has a dream - to win a nationwide singing talent contest. The main problem is that the last audition is in New York only two weeks away. With only a few dollars in their pockets we see Sage and Derek attempting to cross the country to get to New York in time to audition with hundreds of other hopefuls for a spot in the contest.
This is a kind of tender love story as the two very damaged main characters start to connect. It is not the wham-bang eroticism that turns me off so many other contemporary coming-of-age novels. Blake writes this book in the first person as Sage so you experience her youth, immaturity and sensitivities. His writing style is easy reading, but somewhat addictive as he takes us through their experiences, highs and lows and disappointments. The choice of homelessness for a first YA/NA novel is a brave one but it works because Blake doesn't over focus on the dangers which Sage and Derek face to survive.
This is the first YA/NA book by R.E. Blake. I am not in the YA/NA age group (more in the SA group, where S = Senior or Senile) but I think if I can relate to this book then others in the target groups will do so as well.
In the tradition of most trilogies, at the end Blake leaves us in a position where we want to know what happens next. I hope that others will want to read on to find out the answers to several questions that are left unanswered, one of them being "Can true love overcome adversity and a mountain of obstacles keeping them apart?"