Books are like meals for me; some are light and tasty, but eventually I hunger for something more substantial. Others are "stick-to-your-ribs;" you feel satisfied afterward, and you remember it for a long time. Janne Teller's Nothing
is a full meal deal. I have not been able to stop talking about it since I read it (twice) before writing this review. Nothing
is ready-made for book club or classroom discussions, and it's guaranteed to provide (forgive me) food for thought long after you have finished reading.
The story centers on a group of 13 and 14 year old classmates struggling with what to do when one of them, Pierre, suddenly declares that "life is meaningless," and promptly climbs a plum tree. From there, he spends his days mocking his friends for their insistence on participating in the world in the face of its meaninglessness, and their inevitable...
Beyond the Book
's protagonist, Pierre, seems to withdraw from the world, he is not necessarily a nihilist (one who believes in nothing). When he tells the other children he is "contemplating the sky, and getting used to doing nothing," and urges them to "enjoy the nothing that is," his attitude is reminiscent of the French novelist and philosopher Albert Camus. Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche both found some rationale for living inspite of the inevitability of death and the absence (in their view) of an afterlife. Trying to find a way to live life in spite of the emptiness he perceives, Pierre watches with disappointment from his plum tree at his friends who seek meaning in the world of objects (literally, in a pile of objects), rather than finding meaning within themselves....