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Amy’s Marathon of Books stops in Newfoundland for Nix Minus One

Posted on January 15th, 2014 by pajamapress

Nix_C_PRINT_Nov13.inddAmy Mathers is reading her way across Canada to raise money to fund a YA book award—something our country currently lacks. Inspired by the journeys of Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, Amy has begun her “journey” with books set in Newfoundland and will work her way across the country reading a book a day.

Today’s Amy’s tour of Newfoundland brought her to the fictional small town of Bullbirds Cove with Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean:

“There are so many things I love about this book. The characters of Blue, Twig, and Nix. Reading the descriptions about Nix’s intricate woodworking. The complex relationship between Nix and his sister Roxy. Nix Minus One is an authentic portrayal of hardship and grief while still maintaining a sense of hope that will leave the reader feeling uplifted.”

Click here to see Amy’s full review and discover her favourite excerpts from Nix Minus One.


Nix Minus One “echoes with the rhythms of family life” —Books YA Love

Posted on July 15th, 2013 by pajamapress

“A dog, beaten and ignored.
A girl, risking and reckless.
A boy who must step out of his safe-place to save them…

I lived in Newfoundland in early grade school (on a now-closed Air Force base), so I have a strong mental picture of the isolated small coastal town that Roxy longs to escape, where Nix’s solitary ways are known to everyone, where a story can never be untold.

Request this novel-in-verse from your local library or independent bookstore; they might have to order it (Pajama Press is a small Canadian firm, not one of the “Big 5″), but it’s so worth waiting for!

Have you ever felt like the only person who could fix a situation?”

Click here to read the full review – but beware of spoilers!

Booklist reviews Nix Minus One

Posted on July 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

“MacLean’s free verse style mirrors 15-year-old protagonist Nix Humbolt’s quiet, unassuming nature: “The first time / I came across the word / introversion / was the first time / I recognized myself. Like, / there was a category / for me.” At the heart of the novel, which is set in a tiny Newfoundland village, is Nix’s complex, push-pull relationship with his older, rebellious sister, Roxy, and the tender bond he forms with a neglected guard dog. To deal with the challenges of both, Nix takes refuge in his father’s woodworking studio, channeling ragged emotions he can’t verbally express into smooth boxes, picture frames, and tables. But when tragedy upends Nix’s life, it takes a special girl named Blue—and a special dog—to help him confront reality. Nix’s immediate first-person narration offers astute observations (“Is an adult just a teenager with a layer of veneer?”), and YAs who are drawn to contemporary fiction and verse novels won’t want to miss this poignant Canadian import.
— Ann Kelley

Student Review of Nix Minus One

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by pajamapress

Hello I am Joshua I am a grade eight student in Barrie. The book I have read is Nix Minus One by Jill MacLean. The reason I read this book is because I think Jill Maclean is a very good author and I have read many of her books and really enjoyed them. This book is a very entertaining book that makes you want to keep reading because you get so caught up in the emotions of some of the characters. The main character Nixon, goes through a couple of the biggest changes in his life. Nixon is a 15 year old guy who isn’t very popular and his sister Roxanne, known as Roxy is falling for one of the most dangerous guys in school. Bryan Sykes is known to be a drug dealer. Nix would do anything for his sister, but when Roxy doesn’t come home from her friend’s party Nix get very worried. Nix only has a couple friends. Chase McCallum and his sister who they call Blue who seem to be everywhere in the book but Blue is mostly in the barrens bird watching. In conclusion I believe that this book is really entertaining for people who enjoy realistic fiction because I really got attached to Nix and his family. I think readers would find some similiarites of this story to their own lifestyle and overall it’s just a good read. I would rate this a 9.5/10.
—Joshua, Student Reviewer

Publishers Weekly praises Nix Minus One

Posted on May 27th, 2013 by pajamapress

“… MacLean (The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy) writes in short free-verse chapters that read like prose stripped of all unnecessary words. An introvert, Nix watches in dismay as his tempestuous sister flirts with drugs, alcohol, older boys, and risky social scenes: “I thought the yellow sun/ rose over the mountains and set over the sea/ on my sister Roxanne./ Then she hit puberty./ Head-on collision.” More observer than participant at home and school, Nix comes alive in his father’s woodworking shop: “I pick up the dovetail saw,/ cut into the sockets, chisel out the waste…. and by now I’ve forgotten/ anyone’s watching.” Writing with careful, evocative language, MacLean explores love in myriad forms: Nix’s concern for a neighbor’s abused dog that he longs to rescue, his crush on one girl and budding friendship with another, Roxy’s affection for her brother, and his family’s grief over a devastating tragedy.”

Click here to read the full review.

Nix Minus One is “Meticulously-crafted…poignant” —Atlantic Books Today

Posted on April 24th, 2013 by pajamapress

“This meticulously-crafted novel-in-verse is as finely-honed as one of Nix’s own woodworking projects. MacLean tackles many serious issues, artfully weaving together the different elements of Nix’s story into a poignant portrait of one boy’s journey toward acceptance of himself and the curveballs life throws at him….While Nix struggles to find his voice, MacLean’s impeccable poetry—spare, evocative, and affecting—enables readers to enter into his mind and heart. And they will be amply rewarded by the experience.”

Find the full review here on page 20.

Nix Minus One is “complex and engaging” —Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on April 18th, 2013 by pajamapress

At 15, Nix Humbolt is taller and leaner than in his “Fatty Humbolt” days, but he still keeps a low profile at school. He finds refuge in his father’s workshop where he builds intricate boxes and tables – and avoids arguments with his older sister Roxy. When Roxy starts dating Bryan Sykes, Nix knows he’s bad news – but what can he do? The only battles he ever fights are on his Xbox – until the day he finds the nerve to fight for Swiff Dunphy’s neglected dog. When things start to spin out of control, this dog might just be the one who saves him.

Award-winning author Jill MacLean uses verse to tell an emotionally resonant story of an extremely introverted teenager. Nix still thinks of himself as the bullied fat boy, and he struggles to find his voice. He’s fiercely loyal and intelligent, and has a strong sense of justice, but when it comes to acting on it, he feels helpless. The one area where he can do something is to take care of the neglected and abused dog, whom he calls Twig.

While never explicitly stated, MacLean draws a subtle and effective connection between Roxy and Twig in Nix’s mind. The more out of control Roxy becomes, the more desperate Nix is to save Twig. Just when he thinks he’s failed at that, too, it’s Roxy who surprisingly gives him the strength he needs to fight for what matters to him. Nix Minus One is also a story about transformation, and MacLean skilfully parallels Twig’s transformation with Nix’s. As Twig transforms from a skittish, unhappy animal to a happy, healthy dog, Nix gradually is able to come out of his shell and emerge as a stronger, more confident boy.

MacLean’s books demand a lot from their readers, and Nix Minus One is no exception. Her characters are extremely authentic, and they will make the reader root for everything to turn out OK. The story is complex and engaging, and the deep themes make this an excellent novel for study and discussion.”
—Rachel Seigel is Selection Manager at S&B Books – a division of Whitehots.

 Click here to learn more about Canadian Children’s Book News.

MacLean’s book is “Beautifully descriptive”— The Calgary Herald

Posted on April 15th, 2013 by pajamapress

“Nix used to be ‘the fat kid’ and although he has lost the weight, he endures bullying every day.  Written in free verse, this sensitive story follows Nix as he deals with all life has to throw at him; his desire to help an abused dog, frustration in trying to protect an older sister heading for disaster, an old infatuation and a blossoming new friendship. Beautifully descriptive, with some mature content, this book is recommended for mature readers ages 12 to 16.”—Barbra Hesson

The Montreal Gazette praises free verse in Nix Minus One

Posted on April 1st, 2013 by pajamapress

“Poetry, at its best, has the power to evoke a maximum of emotion with a minimum number of words. As such, it’s a fitting tool for an author whose novel revolves around a teenage boy best described as tongue-tied and introverted — and whose life goes into overdrive when the usual changes that accompany puberty are added to those of a family with its share of secrets.

Nova Scotia’s Jill MacLean has set her most recent novel in Bullbirds Cove, a small town in Newfoundland that used to be home to 37 families but where, now that “the codfish are gone from the sea (and) groundfishing closed years ago,” only 23 families remain — including the Humboldt family. Fifteen-year-old Nixon (better known as Nix) and his 16-year-old sister, Roxy, are part of that family. In telling their story, MacLean uses free verse — which might sound off-putting to some, but actually turns out to be a great way to put into words what Nix thinks and has trouble saying. It also makes for a well-paced story that will leave readers thoroughly engaged with the characters, and probably reaching for a tissue or two before getting to the final page.”

—Bernie Goedhart

Nix Minus One is “an exceptional novel…not to be missed” —The Winnipeg Free Press

Posted on March 25th, 2013 by pajamapress

“JILL MACLEAN of Bedford, N.S., has written many young adult books, but her latest, Nix Minus One (Pajama Press, 296 pages, $15 paperback), is an exceptional novel that is not to be missed. Written in free verse, it explores the life and emotions of Newfoundlander Nixon Humbolt (Nix) between his 14th and 16th years.

…Maclean’s free verse is poetic and evocative, but compelling. Written for ages 13 and up, this is a powerful novel, hitting hard on contemporary life.”

—Helen Norrie

Click here to read the full review.