The Big Nothing

When everyone that Justin depends on lets him down, he begins discovering himself with the help of a new friend and some newly found talents.
  • Price:
  • ISBN: 9781561453269
  • Publication date: 10/01/2004
  • Page Count: 224
  • Size: 6" x 8-1/2"
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • ISBN: 9781561453887
  • Publication date: 10/01/2006
  • Page Count: 224
  • Size: 6" x 9"
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • ISBN: 9781561456024
  • Publication date: 05/15/2011
  • Page Count: N/A
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • Age Range: 8-12
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When everyone that Justin depends on lets him down, he begins discovering himself with the help of a new friend and some newly found talents.

Alone. That’s how thirteen-year-old Justin feels these days. His older brother Duane has left home, enlisting in the Army, and his father has walked out, maybe for good this time. His mom is too depressed to get out of bed. And if that’s not enough, his best buddy Ben has a new girlfriend and no longer has time to hang out. There’s not much left for Justin to do but to put his brain in neutral and slide into the state he calls “the Big Nothing.”

But slowly Justin discovers he has more resources than he thinks. With the help of his classmate Jemmie and her grandmother, Nana Grace, he learns that underneath all the noisy confusion in his brain lies a talent for music. As he spends time with Jemmie, he begins to understand how simple notes make complex music, and how simple feelings can turn into deep emotions.

Award-winning author Adrian Fogelin once again offers readers an emotionally charged story featuring a sympathetic adolescent trying to make sense of the people and world around him.



Adrian Fogelin


Adrian Fogelin is the author of several novels for middle readers and young adults, including Crossing Jordan and The Real Question. She lives in Florida.


★ “Fogelin plots a thoroughly engaging story of teen angst, multicultural and political divisions, and a natural desire of neighbors to come to one another’s aid. The characters may be doves, hawks, or melanges in between, but they are sincere in their beliefs and yet can find room in their hearts to pull together for Duane. Serious and humorous by turns, this seemingly simple story is actually quite complex but not weighty and will be enthusiastically embraced.” ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“The impending war in Iraq gives this story a definite place in time, and its distinct characters make it satisfying and surprisingly realistic. Misfit finds fit.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Fogelin’s character-driven narrative… speaks of the painful transitions of adolescence with rare humor and honesty.” ―Booklist


Young Adult Top Forty ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2005

For Teens, by Teens: Teens Recommended Reading List ―Just Read, Florida!, 2011

Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee, Middle Grades) ―Association for Indiana Media Educators, 2006-2007


Resources: Teacher's Guide

Teacher’s Guide

More Details

AR Level: 3.8
F&P: Y, Gr 6, Genre RF
Lexile: 620L
Themes: Change, Family, Friendship, Mental Health, Music
BISAC 1: JUV039240 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Depression & Mental Illness
BISAC 2: JUV013000 JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General
BISAC 3: JUV031040 JUVENILE FICTION / Performing Arts / Music