Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: One + One = Blue by M.J. Auch

  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Source: ARC provided by the publisher for review
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

Twelve year-old Basil knows he’s special—he’s been associating numbers with colors since he was a kid. His gift (or curse) has turned him into somewhat of a loner, but his world begins to change when he meets Tenzie, the new girl in school who has similar freakisms. She, too, has synesthesia (a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another). At first, Basil is somewhat annoyed with Tenzie’s pushiness, but after Basil’s estranged mother returns, his life is turned upside down . . . and Tenzie may be the only person to help him put it back together again.

Once again, MJ Auch has written a thoughtful coming-of-age novel that explores friendship, family, and fitting in.

My Thoughts

I love middle grade books and I don't read nearly enough of them. This one sounded so good and I really love the cover. It was actually much different than I was expecting, but I still did really enjoy it. I had never read a book about this particular issue, and I was really interested in it. It's something I have heard of, but nothing I really knew anything about. I was really hoping that the book would go more into it, but unfortunately it fell short on that part, but I really enjoyed getting to know Basil.

Basil Feeney lives with his grandmother and has always been home schooled. Going into 7th grade he decides that he wants to go to public school. He learns quickly that he doesn't fit in and that he is different. He isolates himself and doesn't have any friends.  He becomes friends with the new girl Tenzie, but is still very unsure of their friendship, and worse, his personal life. His mother who abandoned him when he was a kid is now back in the picture and causing quite a stir. He doesn't really know what to think or what to do, but in the end, I really liked the growth that he had. He really did learn a lot though everything that happened.

Then there's Tenzie. She is a character that I felt bad for in some ways, but didn't really ever like. She was bossy, and impulsive. She was self centered, and didn't think about consequences of things. I get why she acts out, and I do think that she had some reason, but I do think some of the things she does and how she feels are a bit extreme. Of course, she is only eleven so things seem more dramatic at that age I guess, and you don't really think about things as a whole. Do I think she grew as a character? Yes and no. I think she was more forced to than anything, but it does seem like with Basil's help she could do much better.

When Tenzie starts school there she instantly attaches herself to Basil. At first he sees her as an annoyance and tries to get rid of her, but he realizes that she is a friend, then more than that, learns she has the same condition as he does. She both is his best friend, and most aggravating person. He feels like she is integrating herself into his life and family, and feels a bit jealous and threatened maybe, but he really does come to care about her and she cares about him and sticks up for him. She also pushes him to do a lot of things he doesn't want, but ultimately I think that it really helps him learn some valuable lessons.

This book was more about friendship, forgiveness, and letting go than anything else I think. I liked Basil, but besides him, I never really liked many of the other characters much. Okay, his grandmother was really great, and I thought that she was smart and talented, and also very fun. His mom was a train wreck and I couldn't stand her at all. Even when she tries to redeem herself it falls short. I thought that this book would be more about the condition synesthesia, but it was really only a backdrop for the story. I thought the story would be about it, but it was more about family issues than anything. Still a good and fast read though. I did enjoy it.


  1. Hmmm...I don't read a lot of middle grade but I can see why you read this one. I'm glad you liked it.

  2. I read a lot of middle grade and somehow never heard of this one. It sounds a bit intriguing but it's too bad it fell short in some areas. I won't rush out to buy it, but if it falls in my lap or something I'll definitely give it a try!

  3. I'm nearly finished this one and am having some of the same issues as you. Tenzie is annoying and I really want to slap Carly. Actually, Basil annoyed me for a lot of it as well, since he is so grouchy. The only character I really liked (so far) is Grams.

    I also thought it would be more focused on synesthesia.

  4. I don't read middle grade, but I'm glad you liked this one.

  5. I like books about forgiviness and letting this go. Sometimes we need to let things go so we can move on.


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