Review of The Minus-One Club, by Kekla Magoon

The Minus-One Club

by Kekla Magoon
read by Dion Graham

Recorded Books, 2023. 7 hours, 7 minutes.
Review written July 11, 2023, from a library eaudiobook.
Starred Review

The Minus-One Club is a book about grief, about bullying, and about coming out.

It begins with grief. Fifteen-year-old Kermit’s older sister Sheila, who had gone off to her first year of college, recently died in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. When Kermit finally manages to make it back to school, he gets invited to the “Minus-One Club,” a secret group of fellow students who all lost someone close to them. The club members are all there for one another, but they don’t talk about those deaths.

Also in the club is the guy Kermit’s long had a crush on. Matt is the only gay person in their high school who’s out. Kermit is very much not out, but as he starts doing things with Matt, they very clearly fall in love with each other. And since Kermit’s parents are happy he’s doing things with friends again, he can spend the night at Matt’s — as long as he doesn’t miss church in the morning.

Kermit used to be as involved in church youth group as you can get. But since Sheila’s death, he’s full of questions — and it’s all magnified by the way his parents and youth group leaders talk about how gay people are sinning. He knows it’s not safe to come out to them.

And as time goes on, Kermit starts to think Matt isn’t perhaps as happy and well-adjusted as he has always appeared. Navigating all of this makes a compelling story, which does end on a hopeful note.

I do appreciate that being Black was not one of the difficult issues Kermit was navigating. I’m sad that coming out to Christian parents was a big issue. And I have to admit that it’s still going to be an issue for many LGBTQ teens. I like that Matt told Kermit about the church he used to attend (before his mother died) that was fully accepting of LGBTQ folks — so it was correctly not presented as something every Christian church will be against.

This audiobook was compelling, and I found reasons to be able to keep listening. I may have spent a little more time on a jigsaw puzzle in order to finish the book.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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