Casia Schreyer’s fine YA novel, Nothing Everything Nothing takes a realistic look at a number of issues facing young teens, including bulimia, alcohol, bullying, body image and suicide. What struck me about the novel is how seamlessly these elements are integrated into the story without being preachy. That’s because the story isn’t about nude photos on social media (one of the plot elements). The story is about Molly.
Molly is a slightly overweight teen trying to find a place with the in-crowd. Grasping for the brass ring of popularity has its perils, and a cruel streak runs through each of her would-be friends. Lance, the handsome boy who seems to like her, senses a vulnerable target. Kristen, Julie and Amanda have their own reasons for inviting Molly into their circle. But when events turn sour, Molly finds herself saddled with bad choices and the prospect of unending humiliation.
Now Lance is posting personal photos, and they’ve gone viral. The girls want nothing to do with Molly. The resulting erosion of Molly’s sense of self is frighteningly realistic. Schreyer knows the teen mindset and does a brilliant job of staying in voice. Watching Molly crumble is like viewing an accident—disturbing as hell, but how can you turn away?
Molly is not always a likeable character, which is as it should be. She might have been a stronger character, but the story is about her vulnerabilities—weaknesses shared by millions of teens. And though this story is dark, there are characters (friend Brandon and Molly’s mother) who weigh in on the side of love.
Nothing Everything Nothing is a first-rate novel with important themes and memorable characters. The writing is consistently fine. Schreyer’s book is a winner. (Five stars out of five)